Enel Green Power boosts rural electrification in Kenya

Italy’s Enel Green Power (EGP) is teaming up with U.S. mini-grid technology solutions provider Powerhive to build and operate mini-grids in 100 villages in Kenya.

EGP said the $12 million project represented “a concrete effort in the off-grid business by integrating investment, sustainability and innovation” and marked an important step forward in the company’s presence in Africa. EGP will cover 93% of the investment with Powerhive financing the remaining 7%.

?Developed by Powerhive, the project consists of a portfolio of solar mini-grids with a total installed capacity of 1 MW to be built in Kenya’s western counties of Kisii and Nyamira. The mini-grids will supply clean energy to 20,000 households, small businesses, schools and healthcare centers, and connect around 90,000 people to the grid in the process. The integration of mini-grids with energy storage facilities will allow the system to balance supply and demand, thus reducing volatility and offset variations in customer loads and unpredictable fluctuations in power generation.?

EGP CEO Francesco Venturini said Kenya’s rich and differentiated renewable energy technology mix offered a unique platform for the company’s business development in Africa. “This country couples a low electrification rate, still in the range of 30%, with one of the highest mobile phone penetration rates of the region, thus making this union ideal to implement innovative solutions able to integrate the electrification of rural areas with generation from renewables, storage facilities as well as advanced billing systems.”

The project will also provide customers with an easier and more reliable payment system through the adoption of a mobile phone prepayment app and through Powerhive’s mini-grid operating platform.

According to International Energy Agency data, Africa has more than 620 million people who still lack access to electricity. “Energy poverty affects health, limits development opportunities, it reduces access to education and the potential to exit poverty status,” EGP said, adding that access to electricity was a source of growth for emerging countries.

EGP is also involved in off-grid electrification initiatives in other African countries as well as in Latin America and Asia as part of its commitment to the UN’s sustainable development goals.