Kenya signs deals at summit to tap 1,100 MW of renewable energy

Energy Principal Secretary Joseph Njoroge (left), SkyPower Global President Kerry Adler (centre) and SkyPower Global Executive Vice President Charles Cohen sign deals for renewable energy at the United Nations Compound in Nairobi on Saturday. [PHOTO: ANDREW KILONZI/Standard]
Kenya's economy is set to benefit from more than 1,100 MW of renewable energy deals signed at the 6th edition of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) at the weekend.

The Kenyan Government signed agreements with independent power producers, which will see a total of 1,100 MW of wind and solar power injected in the country's electricity grid over several years.

The agreements will see the country cut its reliance on hydroelectricity and become the largest economy in Africa that is powered by affordable and sustainable energy.

US solar company SkyPower Global yesterday signed an agreement with the Kenyan Government that will see solar power generation plants set up in Kajiado, Turkana, Kisumu, Malindi, Baringo and Kakamega counties.

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The company will further set up a factory to manufacture solar equipment, making the country an exporter of solar power to the rest of Africa.

"Kenya has a huge potential for solar power and this is why we are setting you in this country because we believe that there is the capacity both to produce and consume renewable energy at mass scale," said Kerry Adler, president of SkyPower Global.

"We want Kenya to not only be a consumer of clean solar energy but also a producer of the same and we have reached an agreement with the Kenyan government to lease land in several parts of the country to set up solar power generation plants and a factory to manufacture solar energy materials," he said.

The deal, which is valued at Sh220 billion, will see SkyPower Global lease land from the Kenyan government at commercial market rates initially across the six counties with the project scaled up as and when the need arises.

The deal came less than a day after US global conglomerate General Electric signed an agreement with clean energy firm Kipeto Energy to build a new wind farm in Kajiado County.

The multi-billion-shilling project, which will be spearheaded by General Electric Kenya, will see a 100 MW wind project with General Electric Africa being the sole equipment supplier as well as providing a 15-year service agreement.

According to Energy Principal Secretary Joseph Njoroge, the latest clean energy deals signed at GES are part of the country's move to have the bulk of its installed capacity generated from renewable sources.

"We have about four investors who have signed about 130MW of solar energy generating deals aside from what we have signed at GES," he said.

"The development of these projects will commence at the beginning of next year and after another year-and-a-half, we should start having them added into the national grid," he said.

Mr Njoroge was, however, quick to state that the power plants will be set up depending on a needs basis to avoid having idle capacity.

"These projects will all be executed by establishing a balance between the demand and supply. You cannot invest in more supply when you do not have the demand so what we are signing is an expression of interest and it does not mean that we'll inject all these MW into the national grid next year," he said.

Kenya has an ambitious plan to have 5,000 MW of installed capacity over the next two years, with the bulk of it coming from geothermal sources.

In December, President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the additional 280 MW of geothermal energy at the Olkaria geothermal power plant.

A total of 375 megawatts (MW) is currently available for three additional projects with a total capacity of 350MW as the company continues to drill wells to supply steam for an additional 70MW unit at the recently commissioned Olkaria I Unit 4&5 plant.

Other projects are the 140MW Olkaria V and Olkaria VI plants, which the company plans to develop in the next two to four years with an additional 140MW expected at the end of this year from Olkaria V, KenGen's next project.

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