April 1, 2024

Kenya’s Solar Power Facility Achieves a Record High of 28 Percent

Kenya has set a new milestone in solar power generation capacity with the commissioning of the 40-megawatt (MW) Alten Kenya Solar Farms project located in Kesses, Uasin Gishu.

Solar Power Generation Hit a Record 491.48 Million kWh

Solar power generation surged to a record 491.48 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) in 2023, according to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), which was sourced from Kenya Power. Compared to the previous year's output of 383.54 million units, this was a 28.1 per cent rise.

The Kesses plant's commissioning, along with a notable increase in output from the 40MW-capable Cedate and Malindi solar farms, has resulted in a rise in solar power generation.

Solar Power Mitigates Drought Impact

During the country's early-year severe drought, the country's generation deficit was mitigated by a 12.4% decrease in hydropower output. Additionally, 200MW of imported solar power from Ethiopia helped.

Although wind generation decreased by 6.2% as well, there was still enough power due to the large increase in imports and solar and geothermal energy generation. Kenya Power was able to cut its purchases of costly thermal electricity by 17.5% as a result.

Currently, Kenya's four 40 MW solar plants—Selenkei, Alten, Malindi, and Cedate—supply the grid with clean energy. A small portion of solar energy is also fed into the grid by the 0.3 MW Strathmore solar plant.

According to Business Daily, the inauguration of fresh solar facilities coincides with a growing call for the government to discontinue feed-in tariffs (FiT) for wind and solar energy, capitalizing on the decreasing costs of technology components in these sectors.

Kenya Power's Solar Initiative: Saving Billions for Consumers

Kenya Power anticipates Sh2 billion in annual consumer savings through a donor-backed initiative to equip costly fuel-dependent off-grid stations with solar panels.

According to Joseph Siror, the managing director, these stations will primarily rely on solar power during daylight hours and switch to fuel usage after sunset, leading to reduced electricity costs for consumers.

The program aims to hybridize numerous diesel-operated off-grid stations with solar PV systems. Among Kenya Power's 56 off-grid stations, 30 are thermal and 26 are solar mini-grids, with diesel expenses factored into consumers' electricity bills.

The utility intends to retrofit 18 of the 30 thermal stations with solar capabilities to enable dual-source power generation, resulting in cleaner and more cost-effective electricity production.

Unlocking Solar Investment: Kenya's Renewable Energy Landscape

Kenya is emerging as a key player in the renewable energy sector, particularly in solar power, driven by its abundant sunshine and ambitious clean energy targets. Government initiatives like the Feed-in Tariff program and the promotion of off-grid solutions are attracting significant investments from both local and international stakeholders.

Investment opportunities in Kenya's solar sector span utility-scale solar farms, commercial and industrial rooftop installations, off-grid solutions for rural areas, and solar component manufacturing. Financing and leasing options further enhance accessibility to solar energy for businesses and individuals.

However, navigating the Kenyan solar market requires addressing challenges such as regulatory changes, project development complexities, market competition, and ensuring infrastructure reliability. Despite these hurdles, Kenya presents promising prospects for investors looking to contribute to its sustainable energy transition and capitalize on its solar potential.

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