Kenya's commercial sector set for solar mini-grid transformation

Solar Water heater

A solar water heating system. They help reduce electricity bill. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • In Kenya, solar mini-grids are lighting up rural homes, powering small appliances and supporting heavy machinery.
  • Davis & Shirtliff is also partnering with county governments to install mini-grids.

 In a move aimed at driving sustainable energy solutions, Davis & Shirtliff, the leading supplier of water and energy related equipment in the East, Central, and Southern Africa region, has announced the launch of its solar mini-grid solution for commercial use. 

Targeted at industries, hospitality establishments, petrol stations, and institutions of higher learning across Kenya, this innovative solution comes as a timely response to the falling global average price of solar modules, from Sh300/w in 2008 to less than Sh40/w in 2023.

"Solar mini-grids are providing high-quality, uninterrupted electricity for large and mid-sized establishments, offering the ultimate solution to the energy gap currently affecting underserved communities," said Davis & Shirtliff Group Solar Segment Manager, Norman Chege.

Recent data from the Africa Solar Industry Association indicate that nearly 1.9GWp of large-scale projects in Africa were in various development stages at the start of 2023. 

Solar projects

The proliferation of solar mini-grids across Kenya and numerous other African countries is lighting up rural homes, powering small appliances, and supporting heavy machinery like posho mills.

Davis & Shirtliff is also partnering with county governments to install mini-grids, aiming to invigorate inactive towns.

"We have been scaling up support to Counties through solar projects, helping them develop comprehensive electrification programs for low-income, off-grid households, and businesses," Chege added.

Notably, solar mini-grids are fast becoming the most affordable and efficient means to deliver high-quality 24/7 electricity to off-grid towns and cities or those experiencing regular power cuts.

Off-grid solutions

According to The World Bank’s Mini Grids for Half a Billion People: Market Outlook and Handbook for Decision Makers, the number of solar mini-grids in Africa has accelerated from just 500 in 2010 to 3,000 today. 

However, the Handbook stresses that Africa will need to install over 160,000 mini-grids, costing an estimated US $91 billion, to connect 380 million people on the continent.

With a presence in twelve regions across Eastern, Southern, and Central Africa, Davis & Shirtliff has confirmed and ongoing solar mini-grid projects numbering over 100. The group's core business now encompasses the solarisation of boreholes and water supply bodies, commercial and industrial grid-connected solar power supply.

Furthermore, Davis & Shirtliff offers solar mini-grids and PAYGO residential off-grid solutions to marginalized regions of Africa, allowing rural off-grid users to pay gradually as they use.


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