Mr Needham, director for energy and sustainability, said in a company blogpost the two factors which Google assesses when looking at sustainable investments are whether the investment makes economic sense and whether it will help drive other investments and "bolster the growth of the renewable energy industry and move the world closer to a clean energy future".
Whilst the director does not reveal the breakdown of Google's investment, Bloomberg is reporting that the search engine will be one of the project's equity investors, along with U.S. project developer SolarReserve; development partner Kensani Capital Investments; Intikon Energy; the state-owned Development Bank of Southern Africa; non-profit organization P.E.A.C.E.; and state pension fund Public Investment Group.
Bloomberg estimates the $260 million Jasper project is being funded by $65 million from equity partners and $195 million debt financing being led by the FirstRand Bank. The 96 MW scheme, near Postmasburg in the Northern Cape will be made using Yingli Green Energy panels.
Google is always eager to trumpet its investment in renewables with Reuters reporting it has funded $94 million of photovoltaic projects in California and launched a $280 million financing package with SolarCity to fund residential solar installations as well as acquiring a 49% stake in a German solar project in 2011.
The search engine giant is currently the subject of a storm of criticism across Europe's austerity-hit capitals for its corporate tax arrangements. In announcing its intention to alter global corporation tax rules ahead of July's G20 summit, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) cited Google along with fellow tech Titans Apple, Amazon and Facebook.
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