East Africa to get its first solar module plant

Ubbink B.V., the Dutch subsidiary of energy-saving group Centrotec Sustainable AG, is currently building the plant in Kenya, alongside Chloride Exide. Named Ubbink East Africa Ltd., the plant will be located in Naivasha, close to the Kenyan capital Nairobi and will operate according to European technological and quality standards.

The company has said that Kenyan personnel will receive training in the Netherlands on the pre-installed production machinery. Haijo Kuper has been recruited as managing director of the new facility, on the strength of his "extensive experience" of similar projects in Zimbabwe, Bahrain and Oman gained while working for Unilever.

Ubbink East Africa will perform a “pioneering role” in developing the African PV market, says the company. The solar modules to be built there – initially in the 3.6 Wp to 80 Wp performance range – will be manufactured based on reworked, broken high quality solar cells. The modules will then be suitable for use in private homes, village plants and solar power plants serving schools, hospitals, water supply infrastructure and telecommunications systems, continues the company.

Gert-Jan Huisman, CEO of Centrotec stated: “As one of the sunniest continents on our planet, Africa gives solar applications like LED-lighting, mobile phone charging, water pumps, street lighting, etc. very short payback-times, in particular in off-grid situations. We aim to be among the first to capitalize on its potential by launching solar modules ‘European Engineering: Made in Africa’. The response to our initiative has already been huge. We look forward to implementing our plans swiftly and successfully.”