Kenya Power and Lighting Company commonly referred to as Kenya Power or KPLC which is the main distributor of electricity in Kenya is now set to join the solar business following the massive migration of its customers from the main grid to solar energy.
Kenya Power is eager to join the solar movement rather than seeing itself lose out on millions of solar kits being mounted on roofs of homes and business premises in Kenya. The utility firm plans to install solar panels in private houses and office blocks with the promise of cheap uninteraptes solar energy
Several households and heavy-consuming industrialists in the country have over the past five years opted for solar, seeking reliable and cheaper supply of electricity. This move that has upset Kenya Power in the wake of its reporting lower sales and losses.
“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,” a statement from Kenya Power said.
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 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.
In November last year, Kenya Power raised the alarm, saying some of its industrial customers who account for about 54.8 percent of its sales revenues are gradually shifting to own-generated solar power, dealing a further blow to its already dwindling finances.
“The company operated in a challenging environment over the financial year under review, where demand growth at 3.7 percent remained below the projected level of five percent. The dampened demand growth is further compounded with the increased threats of grid defection by the industrial category as decentralised renewable energy options are becoming more available and cheaper,” the utility firm said in its latest annual report.
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.