Kenya prepares the ground for utility-scale PV projects


The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) has given French wind and solar developer Voltalia an $18.17 million loan for the construction of the 50 MW (DC) Kopere Solar Power Project in Kenya.

The multilateral development finance institution said the project may secure a further $11.6 million from the Climate Investment Fund’s Scaling-up Renewable Energy Program. “This project could potentially be Kenya’s first utility-scale solar PV project under the feed in-tariff policy,said bank Vice-President for Power, Energy, Climate Change and Green Growth, Amadou Hott.

Implementation of the project will start next year, the AfDB said.

Voltalia secured a 20-year PPA with state-owned utility the Kenya Power and Lighting Company in May. A week later, the company revealed the modules for the project are being provided by Chinese supplier Suntech.

The project had been initiated by Martifer Solar, the Portuguese developer Voltalia took over in August 2016, and involves construction of a 33/132 kV substation and a 1.8km T-line to evacuate electricity to the grid, according to the AfDB.

Mini-grids to power remote regions

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Kenya introduced a FIT policy for grid-connected PV systems in 2008, with the tariffs revised in 2010 and 2012. The tariffs were also supposed to be revised in 2015, although no change occurred. The government is considering a transition to an auction-based regime, due to the rapid fall in PV costs.

Meanwhile, Kenya’s Rural Electrification Authority last week issued a tender for construction of PV plants totaling 1.1 MW and associated with mini-grids in off-grid areas.

The projects must be deployed in remote areas of the Lake Victoria, coastal and northern Kenya regions. The program will encompass seven locations in five different departments. Seven mini-grids will be built at a cost of $1.35 million. The deadline for bid submissions is January 29.

In September 2017, Kenya’s Energy Regulatory Commission launched an initiative to assess the status of the solar industry in Kenya, establish the capacity of installed solar, identify the factors hindering uptake, and recommend measures to enhance PV use.

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