Vodka and whisky manufacturer London Distillers plans to construct a one megawatt (MW) solar plant. Green energy is fast gaining popularity in Kenya and London Distillers has also gotten into the bad wagon.
The firm, which makes Napoleon brandy, Meakins vodka and Safari Rum,has shared that it is looking to save Sh18 million in power costs annually for at least 25 years with the installation of solar panels on its factory’s rooftops in Athi River.Construction of the plant is set to start in July and will take eight months to complete.
Bidco also recently announced it will begin construction of a 1.2 MW solar rooftop plant in June.
The government scrapped duty on imported solar equipment to spur investors in the sector by providing the shortest route to connecting all homes to power.
“Reduced electricity costs will sharpen our competitiveness in the region, enable us to produce at lower costs and create more job opportunities,” London Distillers chairman Mohan Galot said during the signing of the contract Friday.
He was tight-lipped about the cost of the project and only indicated that the company would recoup the initial investment in solar energy in six years.
The project, which will be developed by UK firm Solarcentury, is also expected to shrink the firm’s carbon footprint when emissions drop.
The alcohol manufacturer said its power bill from electricity distributor Kenya Power is in excess of Sh60 million annually and is expected to drop significantly with the focus on solar energy.
The cost-cutting drive has also led the firm to construct a biogas plant fed with molasses waste to generate electricity, saving it Sh10 million annually, according to the chairman.
Solar experts reckon that Kenya has a high potential for harnessing the power source given the country’s high radiation levels from the sun throughout the year.
The intensity of sunlight, not heat levels, determines solar electricity production.
“We can work with different building designs to install rooftop solar panels,” said Solarcentury East Africa director Guy Lawrence.
“The project at London Distillers will be a solar hybrid system that will operate parallel to the national grid or the diesel generator if the grid fails,” he added.