Green energy challenge eyes Kenyan start-ups with Sh26m grant

Kenyan start-ups have been invited to apply for a grant of up to Sh26 million (£200,000) in a global challenge that seeks to generate sustainable energy solutions for communities not connected to the power grid.

The UK-funded project aims to give capital leg up to start-ups whose projects will help to cut usage of toxic fossil fuels and boost access to clean energy in off-grid areas among displaced communities in Kenya, Burkina Faso and Jordan.

Projects eligible for funding include solar mini grids powering communities or schools, energy projects with new operation models and projects that equip communities or refugees with skills through training.

The programme is organised by Moving Energy Initiative (MEI), which brings together Energy 4 Impact, Norwegian Refugee Council and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

“The project should improve the energy provision in displacement settings and reduce carbon emissions and/or improve and increase energy access,” the MEI said in a statement.  “Funds will be disbursed in tranches based on the achievement of milestones outlined in the application and amended in the grants process.”

Beneficiaries will be required to submit quarterly reports on progress including budget statements for verification.

The MEI aims to ride on the programme to research and develop sustainable energy solutions for heating, cooking, lighting, water and sanitation and communication among displaced communities. “The project should serve as a demonstrator to other actors in the sector to encourage them to also improve their energy provision and adopt new methods and approaches.”

Experts reckon that mini grids offer Kenya the shortest route to lighting areas not connected to the national power grid.  Mini grids suit areas located more than five kilometres away from the scope of the power national grid.

They involve small power plants (between 10 kilowatts and 10 megawatts) and distribution lines that connect a limited number of customers outside the scope of the national power transmission network.  The grids work well in areas with a dense concentration of homes since distribution lines cover short distances.

Kenya has more than 300 days of sunshine per year, double Germany’s — the global leader in solar energy production with a capacity of more than 40,000 megawatts from solar.