The newly established Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation (REREC) says the Garissa Solar Power plant that has an installed capacity of 54.64 megawatts is set to generate more than Sh431 million in revenue from the sale of power to Kenya Power.
Chairman Prof. Simon Gicharu said following the transition of Rural Electrification Authority (REA) to REREC under Energy Act, 2019, REREC has more responsibility and a bigger mandate from the previous five to over ten mandates after the added responsibilities.
He said the agency sold 28.5 million kilowatt hours (kWh) that have helped curb the rise in electricity prices and that it will earn at least Sh1 billion in full year from the sale of solar energy to Kenya Power for onward supply to homes and businesses.
''We now have to oversee rural electricity programme, manage rural electrification programme fund, establish Energy Centres in all the 47 counties, develop and update the renewable energy master plan while accounting for equity in the development of renewable energy resources among others,'' Prof Gicharu said.
Gicharu made the remarks while officiating at the opening of REREC board and management retreat meeting in Mombasa County.
''The new financial year has come with good tidings with the Garissa Solar Power plant which is operational currently producing Sh431,646 million,'' he said.
Gicharu announced that with an expanded mandate his board is expressing the need to employ 165 new staff in order to build capacity and to strengthen current position as a corporation.
Gicharu reiterated that they will give leadership and endeavour to restructure the corporation with the aim to best reflect on in our mandate.
He announced they will strengthen their research division in order to continue and acquire more innovative, world class best practices to achieve energy conservation.
Gicharu said they will farther engage the citizens as well as the Kenyan government on creation of conducive policies in order to achieve noble task of sustainability in renewable energy.
Gicharu said Kenya was losing up to sh 300 million annual from acts of vandalism on electrical installations across the board.
''Time has come through the 47 energy centres where the community shall be involved to try and eradicate vandlalsim. The era of criminalising vandalism should be a thing of the past once we have the community fully embrassing power projects themselves,'' he said.
Solar experts say Kenya, like most African nations, has a high potential to generate solar energy given high radiation levels from the sun throughout the year.
The intensity of sunlight, not heat levels, determines solar electricity product.
Kenya has more than 300 days of sunshine per year, double Germany’s — which is the global leader in solar energy production with an installed capacity of more than 40,000 megawatts. Gicharu said solar energy offers Kenya the shortest route to lighting off-grid towns that have for long relied on expensive diesel generators to produce electricity.
The agency plans to set up 147 small solar plants in off-grid towns, with the aim of lighting up the majority of homes starting next month.
They include Mandera, Garissa, Turkana, Wajir, Lamu and Tana River. Gicharu said connecting off-grid towns by stretching the national grid would take longer and gulp enormous resources, making solar the most viable alternative.
The solar power project funded by Chinese loan at Sh13 billion will add more power to the national grid and comes at a time when the 310 mw Turkana Wind Farm injected 146 million Kwh.
CEO, Peter Mbugua said that as a matter of urgency, they shall be focusing on immediate rebranding to ensure that the Kenyan population is well aversed with the work and mandate of REREC.
''As a new entity coming with expanded mandate, we shall also relook at budgetary allocation to make the corporation more viable and able to respond to daily needs of the community which we are to serve with dedication,'' Mbugua said.
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