NAIROBI, KENYA, NOVEMBER 16 — Kenya is ready to commission the country and East Africa’s largest solar project as it moves to increase installed electricity capacity to above 2,352 megawatts.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to commission the 54.6 MW solar plant on Tuesday next week (November 20).
Based in Garissa County, North Eastern region of the country, the solar plant is considered the largest in East and Central Africa.
Implemented by the country’s Rural Electrification Authority (REA), the plant will feed into the national grid at one of the most competitive rates in comparison to other sources currently feeding into the grid, the government has affirmed.
A Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) is already in place. KPLC owns and operates most of the electricity transmission and distribution in Kenya.
This is the first time that Kenya has developed a major solar power plant to strengthen its rich solar energy resource, an investment that will diversify the power generation mix and expected to reduce energy costs.
The project occupies a total of 200 acres. It is located in Barki Village, Raya Location in Garissa County 15 Kilometers away from Garissa Town.
The plant has been funded by the People’s Republic of China at a cost of Ksh13 billion.
It is being implemented through a consortium of three Chinese engineering companies who undertook civil, mechanical and electrical works.
All the generated power will be sold to KPLC through a PPA signed under the Feed-in-Tariff policy.
The plant consists of 210,000 solar photovoltaic panels set on an 85 hectare piece of land.
To support the project, a 6 Kilometre132 Kilo Vault (KV) transmission line with 16 pylons (towers) has been put in place between the REA solar power plant and the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (KETRACO) substation in Garissa.
The completion of this project is expected to further open up Garissa County which is the economic hub of the north eastern region by enhancing economic development by boosting business and other economic activities such as tourism.
The project has come with further benefits to the local community in Raya who have already benefitting through employment and REA’s Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR).
These include a borehole with storage tank and piping which has increased water availability to the community living in the arid land.
REA has also led in the construction and equipping of a dispensary, construction and equipping of a primary school, construction of a 1.5km access road to the community farm, refurbishment of the local police post and face lifting the areas chief’s camp to enhance security.
Implementation of the project is in line with REA’s strategic objectives to develop and promote renewable energy sources and also to enhance electricity access by the Year 2020.
REA is also implementing 25 solar power mini-grid projects to electrify off- grid centres in Mandera, Garissa, Wajir, Marsabit and Turkana, in the North Eastern and Northern parts of the country.