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Flower farms switch to solar as electricity prices soar

BUSINESS
By Antony Gitonga | March 21st 2021
428 kilowatts (kW) solar system installed in Naivasha. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

Flower farms in Naivasha are shifting to solar energy to cut down on the cost of production in the face of rising electricity costs.

The farmers have identified high cost of electricity and frequent power outages as the major challenges facing the sector.

This came as experts warned that the cost of electricity could rise further following the move by Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) to increase fuel prices by Sh7.

Naivasha-based Shalimar flower farm has joined the list of farms using solar power by installing a system with a capacity of 428 kilowatts (kWp).

The solar system, which has been installed by Redavia Solar, makes Shalimar one of the largest solar-powered farms in the region.

According to Srikanth Vadakattu, Managing Director of East African Growers, the cost of electricity was a major contributor to the cost of flower production in the country.

“This plant is a game-changer in flower production,” he said.

Mr Vadakattu lauded the move, saying it was the way to go for investments using a lot of power in production.

“We are happy with the expertise shown by Redavia staff in executing the solar plant and the costs are encouraging during this difficult Covid-19 period,” he said.

Erwin Spolders, the Chief Executive Officer of Redavia Solar, said this was the largest solar power plant the company had deployed in the country.

“The savings from solar will be a game-changer for the horticultural sector because the cost of energy for greenhouses and pack houses make up a large part of operational costs in the sector,” he said

He said the solar power plant leasing service by the company was rapidly gaining traction in the business world as consumers seek cheaper and reliable source of energy.

“With a minimal upfront investment, customers can reduce cost and increase operational flexibility through the use of solar power systems,” he said.

He said they had also deployed a 99 kilowatts (kWp) rooftop solar unit at Wonder Feeds Limited in Nakuru, which had seen the company record a reduction in operational costs.

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