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Google abandons plan to buy stake in Africa’s largest wind farm

By Lawrence Gash

The announcement has not affected the share price of Google's parent company, Alphabet, with rumours of an upcoming deal between Google and Tesla

Google abandons plan to buy stake in largest wind farm in Africa
Lake Turkana, Kenya

Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas (VWS) has revealed that Google has pulled out of its plan to buy a 12.5 per cent stake in Africa’s largest wind farm.

A spokesman for the firm said: “Lake Turkana Wind Park is now fully operational and delivering sustainable energy to the citizens of Kenya. [But] as Vestas' strategy doesn't include being a long-term wind park owner, we're currently in commercial dialogues with potential buyers of our shares.”

Google has not yet provided the reason for the decision, which has taken many observers by surprise. In recent years the firm has repeatedly outlined its desire to promote renewable energy.

Last year, Fabian Vieau, Google’s principal for data centre energy and location strategy in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told a conference in Amsterdam: “What’s happening these days, it’s a competition, it’s a clean energy arms race.” He added: “This is good for business, it’s good for the planet so we should enjoy this.”

Google’s decision to pull out of a major renewable infrastructure project on a continent on which it is looking to expand has puzzled some. First envisioned in the 1990s and beset by a number of financial setbacks, particularly the World Bank’s withdrawal of funds in 2012, the Lake Turkana wind farm was eventually completed ahead of schedule in 2017 and entered service in 2018.

Nonetheless, issues with contractors and landowners along the 428km transmission link route have persisted to this day. A spokesman for Vestas told Reuters: “Due to delays relating primarily to the transmission line, the Vestas agreement with Google was cancelled in 2019.”

The announcement has not affected Google’s parent company’s share price. Indeed, by mid-afternoon trading (GMT) Alphabet shares have gain 1.46 per cent in value at $1,500.70 thanks to rumblings of an upcoming deal between Google and Tesla.

Should this come to fruition it could indicate the tech giant’s preference for retail renewable energy solutions rather than major infrastructure investments.

FURTHER READING: German power grid operators urge rise in renewable generation capacity

FURTHER READING: Things to consider when making a renewable energy investment

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