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Economy

Launch of 54MW Garissa solar plant promises cheaper power

Pavel Oimeke.
Energy Regulatory Commission director-general Pavel Oimeke. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenya is Tuesday set to launch the region’s largest solar power plant in Garissa with the cheaper green energy offering room to further lower electricity prices.

The 54.6 megawatt (MW) plant, the largest in East and Central Africa and located 15 kilometres from Garissa Town, is expected to be commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta, further cutting reliance on expensive thermal power.

“The 54.6MW solar plant, implemented by the Rural Electrification Authority (REA), will feed into the national grid at one of the most competitive rates in comparison to other sources currently feeding into the grid. A Power Purchase Agreement with Kenya Power is already in place," read a statement from REA.

Solar power will cost about Sh8 per kilowatt hour matching the wholesale cost off wind, and lower than thermal that goes for above Sh20.

Kenya has an installed generating capacity of 2,370MW and peak demand of about 1,770MW. It relies heavily on renewables such as geothermal and hydro power.

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The injection of the Sh13 billion Chinese loan funded solar power to the national grid comes weeks after Kenya increased its share of cheaper wind power. The 310MW Turkana Wind Farm, which was switched on in October, is now injecting 160-170MW into the grid. The 54MW Garissa solar plant power is expected to be connected to the grid later this month.

“Cheap electricity is coming in from the renewables; the Turkana wind (power) is here with us and Garissa solar will be coming in November,” Energy Regulatory Commission director-general Pavel Oimeke said.

“It will leverage on the cost of electricity because when you have cheap generation it means the cost of power also comes down,” said Mr Oimeke.

The fuel cost charge is currently Sh2.50 per kWh, and had risen to above Sh5 last year. The solar plant is located 15 Kilometres from Garissa Town and was funded via a Chinese loan.

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