Project in SA
The Internet search giant is buying into a renewable power project that Eskom will buy from in the next
Internet giant Google has chosen South Africa for its f irst investment into renewable energy in Africa. The company is injecting $12 m, or about R118m, into the Northern Cape Solar Project. Named Jasper, the initiative will be one of largest solar installations in Africa, generating enough electricit y to power 30 000 South African homes, according to representatives. Eskom – which means you and I – will be buying power from this project for 20 years beginning late 2014.
In a telephonic briefing, Rick Needham, Google’s director of energy and sustainability projects, said that SA has the most progressive policies in Africa when it comes to renewable energy and that its goals align with Google’s strategy to invest in renewable energy. He was referring to the awkwardly named Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement programme (RE IP programme to its friends) that has been established by the SA Government as part of its effort to meet the country’s power needs.
The programme encourages energy projects to compete on the basis of cost and contribution to the local economy, with the prize being a twodecade-long contract with Eskom, SA’s State-owned energy utility.
In the case of Jasper, the project is initially being funded by SolarReserve, Intikon Energy and the Kensani Group and is also backed by the Public Investment Corporation, Development Bank of Southern Africa and the PEACE Humansrus Trust, with senior debt and preference share funding being provided by Rand Merchant Bank.
All of these entities, and Google, stand to make good returns on their investment from the massive contract with Eskom.
In the long term, however, Needham says that such investments also contribute to the infrastructure Google will need for its global expansion and aid in internet adoption – crucial in emerging market economies.