By: Nathan McAlone
Google is in talks to invest in the largest wind power project in Africa.
According to CNBC, Google wants to back Kenya’s Lake Turkana Wind Power Project, a massive undertaking that will require more than $700 million.
The project will span 40,000 acres, raise Kenya’s energy capacity by 20 percent, and be an enormous boon to a country where less than 25% of the population has access to power.
Though most of Google’s green energy investments have been within the United States, it has invested in Africa before — most notably in 2013 when it poured $12 million into a South African solar project, one of the largest on the continent.
Kwame Parker, Standard Bank’s head of power and infrastructure for East Africa, told CNBC that Google’s global profile would send ripples beyond Turkana itself. Google’s investment would be “a significant vote of confidence for investors considering African power market entry,” he said.
But that’s not the only impact this investment could have. It could also help secure a $250 million investment based on President Barack Obama’s Power Africa initiative. To receive the government investment, the Turkana project would require “meaningful involvement of the U.S. private sector,” which Google’s investment would likely satisfy.
Google also has significant interest in wind power on the technology side. Its innovative arm, Google X, is currently developing the potential next phase in wind energy production. Google’s Makani wind turbines fly in the air like kites to utilize the strong winds available at higher altitudes.