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State to light up rural Kenya using solar

By Philip Mwakio | Updated Sun, August 23rd 2015 at 00:00 GMT +3

Rural Electrification Authority (REA) is spearheading use of renewable energy to generate power in remote areas.

Chairman Simon Gicharu said tapping into solar energy will help light up more rural areas across the country. “Kenya’s geographical location and an all-year warm weather makes it ideal to tap into solar energy,” Gicharu said.

He cited the case of Germany where despite only having three months of clear sunshine in a year, they have one of the largest solar connections in the world. Mr Gicharu said REA through the Government has secured financing from China to construct a grid based 50 megawatt solar plant in Garissa as part of the 5,000 megawatt power strategy meant to transform Kenya.

“We intend to use our internal resources to finance and procure consultant services for the project. The works are turn-key projects comprising of civil, mechanical works and electrical works to be implemented by a consortium of two engineering firms,” Gicharu said.

The power generation will comprise of phase one 50MW generation project divided into 50-one megawatt power generating sub-systems. While admitting that solar utilisation in public facilities is low, Gicharu said REA plans to advocate for law to make it compulsory for public utilities such as shopping malls, markets and educational institutions to use solar energy.

With the target to electrify secondary and primary schools and health centres, Gicharu said 3,000 contractors are on the site, with works ongoing. “This has been largely due to dedication from the side of REA staff as we strive to ensure that Kenya’s rural setting have light,” he said.


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