Solarcentury installs PV plant in Kenya

British solar energy company Solarcentury has installed a 1 MWp PV plant – one of the biggest in East Africa — at a tea farm in Western Kenya.

Solarcentury was selected as the lead designer, supplier and installer of the PV system and will also oversee operation and maintenance for the installation, located at Williamson Tea’s Changoi Tea Farm in Bomet County.

The solar system will cut Williamson Tea’s energy costs by around 30%, supplying clean electricity during the daytime to meet most of the tea processing factory’s energy demand. Williamson Tea’s system will reduce the need for grid electricity and the consumption of diesel when back?up energy production is required.

When the national grid is working, Williamson Tea’s solar farm will work in parallel with the grid and reduce the amount of grid electricity imported, according to Solarcentury. When the grid is down, the solar power system will work together with the standby diesel generators, significantly reducing the amount of diesel consumed.

Solarcentury CEO Frans van den Heuvel said the Williamson Tea solar farm was "a shining example of the opportunity for solar in Africa, and indeed the emerging markets, to help meet the increasing energy demands of growing economies," adding that sustainable energy sources were becoming more critical, especially as the cost of fossil fuel energy continues to rise globally.

"Solarcentury is now focusing on delivering solar internationally and is pleased to be working with forward?thinking companies like Williamson Tea. By choosing solar, Williamson Tea is not only investing in the company’s sustainable future, but also local people and the future of the tea farming industry in Kenya."

Local solar companies East African Solar and Azimuth Power served as developers for Williamson Tea’s solar farm. Solarcentury, which is expanding its operations internationally, realized the project through its Nairobi office, headed by Dan Davies, one of Solarcentury’s founders and the company’s director in East Africa.