Kenya Power eyes Sh2bn savings on solar

Kenya Power workers carry out repair works along Haile Selassie Road, Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NMG

Kenya Power says consumers will save Sh2 billion every year through a donor-funded programme that seeks to retrofit expensive fuel off-grid stations with solar panels.

The utility’s managing director Joseph Siror says the stations will utilise solar power during the day and only use fuel when the sun sets.

“This will lead to lower electricity prices for consumers because they will pay less for fuel needed to run the off-grid stations,” said Dr Siror earlier this week.

The programme seeks to hybridise dozens of off-grid stations that currently run on diesel with solar PV systems.

Kenya Power operates and maintains 56 off-grid stations out of which 30 are thermal and 26 are solar mini grids. The cost of buying diesel to run these thermal stations is included in the electricity bill footed by all consumers.

The utility wants to retrofit 18 of the 30 thermal stations with solar so that the stations can produce power using both sources to make the generation not only cleaner but also cheaper.

The company says it has already retrofitted four off-grid stations that have been using fuel with solar as part of a shift to renewable energy.

The sites are Eldas, Elwak, Merti, and Habaswein.

Kenya Power has received Sh1.7 billion from the Agence Française de Développement to fund the project.

The utility has estimated that the total cost of undertaking the project stands at €33 million (Sh5.69 billion).

The power distributor says it will retrofit 12 of the remaining stations when it gets funding from the government which will enable it to expand the project.

“This endeavour is driven by the dual objectives of reducing fuel costs and minimising carbon emissions. These off-grid stations have been relying on fossil fuel with a combined average consumption of two million litres annually,” said Kenya Power in its annual report.

Upon completion of the project, it is anticipated that fuel consumption at these sites shall decrease by 60 percent, lowering the carbon footprint.

Kenya Power is also implementing the Sh24 billion ($150 million) World Bank-funded Kenya Off-grid Solar Access Project.

The initiative targets to set up 98 mini-grids and 473 stand-alone systems to enhance electricity access in 14 counties with low grid penetration.

The regions to be covered by the project are Garissa, Isiolo, Kilifi, Kwale, Lamu, Mandera, Marsabit, Narok, Samburu, Taita Taveta, Tana River, Turkana, Wajir and West Pokot.

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