Investor to build 40MW solar power plant and battery in Siaya

Solar panels on top of a building at Strathmore University in Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE

A Nairobi-based company is set to construct Kenya’s first large-scale solar energy storage battery to be connected to the national power grid.

Xago Africa is conducting feasibility studies for the back-up batteries with assistance from American investors after submitting an expression of interest at the Energy ministry.

This came after completion of studies for construction of the 40-megawatt solar power plant.

The solar park is estimated will cost Sh7.2 billion ($70 million).

“They are at the feasibility studies stage. The back-up storage technology is quite welcome and positions Kenya as a regional solar energy hub,” director of renewable energy at the ministry Isaac Kiva told the Business Daily.

The development places Kenya among nations currently exploring various technologies for solar power storage on a mass scale, beyond smaller solar-powered batteries for cars and households.

The back-up batteries are meant to ensure reliable supply of electricity to the grid even during the absence of sunlight.
American innovator Elon Musk has been at the forefront in researching and developing commercial solar batteries through his firm SolarCity.

The Siaya solar farm’s electricity is expected to be fed to the national grid upon completion.

Kenya’s total installed power capacity stands at about 2,400 megawatts, with solar power accounting for less than one per cent, presenting a huge market for investors as the country switches focus to green energy sources.

Currently, Strathmore University in Nairobi is the only institution that has connected its 0.6-megawatt solar power plant to the national grid.

Solar experts reckon that Kenya has a high potential given high radiation levels from the sun throughout the year.

The intensity of sunlight, not heat levels, determines solar electricity production.

Investors last year applied to develop Kenya’s largest solar energy plants, highlighting the growing interest of companies in building sun-powered power stations.

Records at the Energy Regulatory Commission show that three companies have sought the greenlight to produce 120 megawatts of solar power.

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