Ministry maps out solar park and wind farm sites

A geothermal well at the Menengai Crater. PHOTO | FILE
A geothermal well at the Menengai Crater. PHOTO | FILE 

The Ministry of Energy is mapping out sites for investors to construct solar parks and wind farms as Kenya prepares to start auctioning zones for building renewable energy plants.

Officials said the exercise would spare investors the hassles of head-hunting for potential locations for projects and reduce the construction period.

“We are mapping locations with potential for wind and solar projects as a guide tool for investors,” director of renewable energy at the Ministry of Energy Isaac Kiva said Wednesday during a green energy conference at Strathmore University organised by Italy-based Renewable Energy Solutions for Africa (Res4Africa).

Some 40 Italian companies involved in green energy are participating in the two-day conference as they scout for deals in Kenya.

Kenya’s renewable energy market has recently attracted dozens of local and multinational investors, who are constructing solar farms, wind parks and geothermal wells.

This is in response to the government’s call for private investors to develop clean energy plants as part of the country’s goal to add 5,000MW to the national grid by 2020.

Kenya has now drafted new regulations expected to come into force in three months’ time that give the Ministry of Energy officials the power to select electricity generation projects and award them to bidders who offer the lowest tariffs.

The competitive bidding window is billed a sure-fire policy tool to slash electricity bills.

The auctions will replace the current feed-in-tariff (FiT) system, where investors identify potentially viable power projects and then acquire licences to operate them at pre-determined rates without any requirement for tendering.