Kenyatta University (KU) has switched on the first phase of a Sh1.7 billion solar plant that will see the institution generate its own electricity and offload excess power onto the national grid.
The 100 kilowatt(KW) solar plant, located at KU’s main campus off Thika Road, cost an estimated Sh17 million.
It is projected that the entire 10-megawatt project will cost Sh1.7 billion.
The extra power produced in phase two will be connected to the national grid, helping to generate extra revenue for the institution.
Phase one of the plant was developed by France-based solar panels manufacturer Urbasolar through funding from the French government. It occupies about three acres.
KU did not, however, provide figures on the amount the university expects to save from generating its own electricity.
Speaking after commissioning the plant, Energy and Petroleum secretary Charles Keter said the country had received substantial funding from the French government that shall go towards achieving universal electrification by 2020.
“We have total commitments amounting to Sh50.16 billion for financing the last mile connectivity project and Sh150 billion in commitment for electrifying off-grid areas. With support of development partners, we will achieve our objective of universal electrification by 2020,” said Mr Keter.
He said Kenyans will be trained on operation of new models of solar energy that are being adopted in the country.
“Considering the huge investments in solar industry, we will require trained human resource to operate and maintain these systems, as well as innovate on delivery of better models,” said Mr Keter.
French Minister for Ecological and Inclusive Transition, Nicholas Hulot, said his government would continuously support efforts aimed at promotion of renewable energy generation, which is the core of the Paris agreement on climate change.
“I want to let the Kenyan authorities know that the French government will support these ambitious choices and that French companies have the expertise to bring innovative solutions to meet these needs, as we have successfully demonstrated here today with Urbasolar,” said Mr Hulot.
Urbarsolar president Arnaud Mine said the pilot plant is capable of tracking the direction of the sun thus absorbing maximum energy during the day.
He said the technology used to make the plant allows for installation of a software that enables easy tracking of its contribution to the national grid.