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French firm inks 50MW solar electricity purchase deal

The government targets universal electricity access by 2020. FILE PHOTO | NMG
The government targets universal electricity access by 2020. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Electricity distributor Kenya Power has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with French renewable energy firm Voltalia for a 50-megawatt solar project located in Kopere, Nandi county.

The 20-year power sale contract at an undisclosed price will see the French firm use the expertise of its teams based in Portugal for both construction and operation of the plant. The firm said the plant, located on the border of Nandi and Kisumu counties, “benefits from an optimal solar irradiation level”.

Voltalia will act as the engineering, procurement, construction operations, and plant maintenance services provider.

“This new project confirms our ambitions in Africa, a sun-rich continent where a significant part of the population still has no or poor access to electricity,” said Voltalia chief executive Sébastien Clerc.

The project was initiated by Portuguese energy firm Martifer Solar and later acquired by the French in 2016. “The project also underlines the benefits of Martifer Solar’s acquisition in order to reach our 2020 targets,” he added.

The government targets universal electricity access by 2020, up from 70 per cent in 2017.

The new solar project rivals a similar one by the Rural Electrification Authority (REA), which is developing east Africa’s largest solar power plant in northern Kenya. The REA plant is set to start operating later this year, according to REA chief executive Peter Mbugua.

The 55-megawatt solar plant in Garissa, which is expected to produce power for 625,000 homes, is also expected to be completed in December.

REA, which is developing the plant, said its completion would boost the manufacturing sector — one of the four pillars of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s economic revival strategy.

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