Friday, May 31, 2013

Google Invests in SolarReserve's South African Renewable Energy Project

Interest in renewable energy development is not only limited to California and Germany.  South Africa is of growing interest to renewable and alternative energy investors like US tech giant Google.
Google announced it will help fund the photovoltaic power plant located in the province of Northern Cape.  According to Rick Needham, director of energy and sustainability at Google, South Africa had the highest growth when it comes to clean energy investments last 2012.

Google has already invested more than $1 billion in funds to renewable energy.  South Africa is the company's second overseas venture.  The first renewable energy investment was made last 2011 to a photovoltaic power plant in Germany.

Google's share in the South African Jasper Project is not that big but the company is satisfied with the potential benefits once the solar power plant becomes fully operational.  It will be the largest power plant in Africa which can provide enough energy to power 30,000 homes.  The entire project costs $260 million and $12 million of that came from Google.

South Africa wants to provide 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy for the next fifteen years. The project caught the eye of a startup based in California, SolarReserve.  The startup company is also developing two other photovoltaic power plants aside from the Jasper Project. 

The power plant will use mirrors reflect sunlight on boilers containing molten salt. The action produces steam to power the turbine to generate electricity.  Even on cloudless days and nights, the plant can also generate power from the heat contained in molten salt.

South Africa does not offer subsidies for renewable energy. Parties interested in building power plants are required to secure permits, submit a list of financers and suppliers then submit proposals to the country's Department of Energy.  Once the proposal is accepted, the government requires the development to start the project within six months.

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