Google (NYSE: GOOG) has announced a $12 million investment in a new solar power project located in South Africa's Northern Cape. The 96-megawatt Jasper solar facility will be one of the largest on the continent upon completion, generating enough electricity to power 30,000 homes.
Severe energy shortages in 2008 resulted in blackouts for South Africa, which greatly impacted economic growth. Since then, the South African government has helped to establish the largest solar market on the continent and set a goal of generating 18 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy by 2030. The ambitiousness of this undertaking is best highlighted by the fact that the entire South African grid is currently 44 GW.
According to Google’s official blog, the company has been searching for new investments beyond the U.S. and Europe in its efforts to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy. Google noted the Jasper project also represented a transformative opportunity, offering significant economic and social benefits for the local community. It is projected that development of the Jasper solar plant will create approximately 300 construction and 50 permanent jobs in a region that has been hard hit by unemployment.
SolarReserve, a California-based solar power developer, opened an office in South Africa in 2011 and is developing the plan along with South African partners including the Kensani Group and Intikon Energy. The consortium formed by Iberdrola Ingenieria y Construccion (Iberdrola) and South African company Group Five has been selected to build the new Jasper solar plant, which will be powered by more than 325,000 Yingli YL295P-35b multi-crystalline photovoltaics modules.