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Should you be investing in Kenyan PV?

Should you be investing in Kenyan PV?
November 24, 2014 Mike Watson

Flag of Kenya

Solar Resource

Kenya is located on the equator and receives a high daily insolation of between 4 and 6 kWh per square metre which means a high yield from solar photovoltaic (PV) panels.

The greatest solar radiation levels occur in the Rift Valley region to the north of Nairobi.

Growing Economy

The economy grew at a rate of 5.1% in 2013 and at over 4% in the preceding two years. This means that the demand for electricity is growing rapidly with 51% electrification in urban areas and 4% in rural areas.

REFiT Scheme

The government has a Feed In Tariff (FiT) scheme for renewable energy developments. This scheme is not a true FiT scheme because the quoted electricity price is not guaranteed – the amount paid depends on market conditions. Nevertheless the scheme seems attractive.

State of the Market

Upcoming Commercial PV Projects Kenya

It is understood that over 750 Megawatts (MW) of commercial PV generation are in the pipeline with the first 1MW scheme having been commissioned at the Changoi Williamson tea processing factory in the Rift Valley region. Tea factories use a lot of energy and other tea processors are examining the technology.

Barriers to Entry

The grid serves the most populated parts of the country but many rural residents are a long way from the grid. Furthermore there is limited certainty on the price paid for electricity and getting connection. In addition, Power Purchase Agreements is not always straight forward.

Home of green electricity

More than half (55.9%) of Kenya’s electricity comes from sustainable sources. This includes hydro-electricity and geo-thermal generation. The country also has a significant wind resource with the first wind turbines having been installed at the Ngong site south west of Nairobi.

Glint and Glare

Solar reflections from PV panels can be an issue when solar developments are sited near major highways, railways or airports. It is sometimes necessary to commission a glint and glare study as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

Pager Power and Kenya

Pager Power undertook its first projects for Barclays Africa in 1999 having commissioned two systems in Nairobi. The company currently offers radar interference studies for wind farm developers as well as glint and glare assessments for solar developments in East Africa and the rest of the world.

Conclusions

The Kenyan solar PV market is growing with the first large scale having been commissioned at a tea processing plant. There are many schemes in the pipeline with a REFiT scheme to encourage development and a rapidly growing market for electricity.

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