Electricity distributor Kenya Power, in an attempt to stay relevant, plans to begin installing panels in private houses and office blocks with the promise of cheap uninterrupted electricity.
The move should help Kenya Power earn profits on the millions of solar kits being mounted on the roofs of homes and business premises around the country.
“Consumers will benefit from cheaper solar energy generated during sunny hours… The solar plants will include storage with minimum autonomy to cancel out effect of short-duration supply interruptions which has been a major cause of concern among some commercial and industrial customers,” Kenya Power says in internal documents seen by Business Daily.
In the arrangement, Kenya Power will scout for customers seeking to have solar panels installed on their rooftops and contract private firms to do the job under a design-build-finance and operate (DBFO) model.
“KPLC will undertake the role of project development by liaising with interested commercial and industrial customers who will provide rooftop space or ground space for the installation of the PV (photovoltaic) modules,” says Kenya Power.
“A private sector investor will then be selected competitively through a request for proposal (RFP) to develop and operate the grid-tied captive solar plants at the customer premises.”
Kenya Power would then sell the generated power at a discounted rate to the owners of homes and office blocks hosting its solar plants.
Excess electricity would be distributed to homes and commercial entities adjacent to the solar panels—which will remain the property of Kenya Power and the private investors installing them.
Households and heavy industry in Kenya began shifting to solar five years ago in an effort to secure cheaper and more reliable supplies of electricity.
They’ve been joined by several companies, universities and factories that have turned to solar photovoltaic (PV) grid-tied systems to supply power at reduced operational costs.
Big power consumers such as Africa Logistics Properties (ALP), Mombasa International Airport, the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (Icipe) have recently commissioned solar power units on their properties.
In September 2018, ALP installed a 506-kilowattpeak (kWp) hybrid solar PV, hoping to save Sh12 million per year.
In the same month, Icipe commissioned its $2.5 million (Sh273.5 million) two solar PV power plants located in Kasarani, Nairobi, and on the shores of Lake Victoria. The plants have a combined generating capacity of 1,156 kWp.
Moi International Airport in Mombasa is also set to install a 500 KW solar PV system. The ground-mounted solar system is expected to generate 820,000 kWh per year and offset 1,300 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.