KCB turns to solar energy on frequent Kenya Power outages

Customers at KCB Banking Hall in Nairobi.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

KCB Group has installed solar in two of its branches in Kenya and plans to do so in 19 others by the end of next year, citing the need to respond to frequent power outages.

The lender says in the latest annual report that it installed solar on two branches last year as a pilot phase and now wants to scale up the process, giving it the twin benefit of lowering operational costs while mitigating the environmental impact of its operations.

KCB explains that its spending on fuel rose by 54 percent last year on frequent power outages, which increased reliance on diesel generators across branches. The lender sees the installation of solar as one of the means to increasing efficiency across the branches.

“The group has mapped areas with frequent power outages, which increase fuel dependency. This exercise has identified 19 branches for solarisation by 2025. Other facilities will undergo upgrades of their machinery and equipment such as data centres to ensure optimal energy efficiency,” said KCB in the report.

Bank branch operations require an uninterrupted power supply, given the level of automation that connects customer service desk and IT equipment with customer records in the back office.

KCB joins the growing number of firms turning to solar to power their operations in the country. Firms and individuals have faulted Kenya Power over the cost and reliability of its electricity.

DTB Group in June last year installed a 300kW solar generation project to provide up to 20 percent of the energy needs of its head office, DTB Centre, in Nairobi. The lender said in the latest annual report the project reduced electricity consumption by 12 percent between July and December 2023.

KCB has also installed energy-saving lights in 108 of its 206 branches in Kenya, in a move it says helped it lower electricity consumption by two percent.

The bank last year said it was also going to install power backup inverters in select branches to ensure the availability of electricity and cut reliance on generators and diesel usage.

KCB Group in 2022 consumed over 832,000 litres of fuel, with Kenya taking up over 378,000 litres or 45 percent of the total consumption. The fuel was partly consumed on powering branches as well as for travelling.

Many firms are now tracking their consumption of water and fuel and the level of greenhouse gas emissions into the environment and coming up with initiatives to reduce this in a bid to build businesses that protect the environment.

Banks are also screening their loans in a bid to cut the amount of money financing activities that hurt the environment.

KCB says Sh615 billion in loans underwent environmental and social due diligence last year compared with Sh270.4 billion a year earlier.

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