Kenya Power set to spend Sh4.3bn on off-grid solar

Kenya Power offices

Kenya Power offices on Aga Khan Walk in Nairobi. Kenya Power will spend Sh4.31 billion to retrofit 18 of its diesel-powered off-grid stations with solar to lower costs.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Kenya Power will spend Sh4.31 billion to retrofit 18 of its diesel-powered off-grid stations with solar to lower costs.

The utility operates 30 off-grid power stations, which were initially developed as thermal plants serving areas far from the national power grid.

Customers pay for this diesel through the fuel cost charge (FCC), which is the single second costliest component of power bills.

The hybrid systems enable the displacement of expensive thermal generation with cheaper and cleaner renewable energy, reduction of carbon emissions and boost power supply reliability, said the utility.
The project will be funded by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD).

“Considering the global rise in the cost of fossil fuel and the need to protect the environment, a hybridisation project, which entails retrofitting the plants with solar photovoltaic systems, was initiated by the government,” said Kenya Power.

“Plans are underway to retrofit 18 of the 30 existing diesel-powered off-grid stations at a cost of €33 million with funding from AFD.”

The company said that the remaining 12 plants would be hybridised progressively on additional funding from the government.

Kenya Off-grid Solar Access Project

Kenya Power is also implementing the Sh18.48 billion ($150 million) World Bank-funded Kenya Off-grid Solar Access Project.

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

The counties 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.

Implementation of the project is expected to commence in the current financial year and is earmarked for completion in 2024.

The off-grid power stations are a critical cog in Kenya’s plan to hit universal electricity access. The Jubilee administration had planned to hit this target by 2022, but funding hitches have seen the timeline extended by a few more years with about 76 per cent population currently having access to electricity.

If successful, making these diesel-powered off-grid stations should in the long term translate into cheaper electricity costs to not only the customers connected to the stations but also other consumers through lower FCC charges.