Solarcentury’s Solar hybrid technology at Garden City Mall in Kenya

Solarcentury's Solar hybrid technology at Garden City Mall in Kenya
Solarcentury's Solar hybrid technology at Garden City Mall in Kenya

Solarcentury was first on site at the garden City Mall in Kenya in May 2014 and had the system operating in July 2015.

The official launch of the solar hybrid system at the Garden City mall in Kenya  took place in September 2015. “Solar is perfect for urban areas where land is at a premium yet energy needs to be supplied near to demand, and it integrates easily with the dense power networks. Installing the panels on the roof of a car park makes use of otherwise functionless roof space, serving the dual purpose of providing shade and generating power at the same time.” says Guy Lawrence,Director for Solarcentury in East Africa

Project timeline

February-May 2014: Pre-contract design work by Solarcentury
May 2014: Installing the conduit in the slab by the electrical contractor
June 2014: Plinths cast in place by the main contractor Sino Hydro
30 July 2014: Solarcentury EPC contracts signed
January 2015: Goods begin to arrive on site
February-March 2015: Layout and framework installation
March 2015: Electrical cable installation
April 2015: First panel installed
July 2015: System operating
July-September 2015: Commissioning
September 2015: Handover

New control strategies enable large solar photovoltaic system (PV) systems, such as the one at Garden City, to be operated in parallel with diesel generators, which act as a back-up power source for when the sun isn’t shining. This kind of system is known as a hybrid PV system.

Operating solar PV systems alongside diesel generators presents a number of challenges including ensuring a stable power supply with the solar PV operating in parallel with the generator, and ensuring the generator never runs below 35% part load, which can damage the machinery. The hybrid technology means that solar PV systems can run alongside diesel generators without the need for expensive batteries. The control system manages the output from the solar PV system to ensure that the diesel generator operates at a minimum, and also so that the diesel generator can be deployed if loads rapidly increase or if clouds momentarily reduce the solar output.

One of the most common hybrid applications is where solar PV is being used to reduce the off-take from the public grid in places with expensive and intermittent power, and then to use the same system to work in parallel with the standby generators. This reduces fuel consumption without removing the essential back-up of the diesel generator for night-time operation or when the sun is not shining. Where local utilities do not allow reverse power flow into the distribution network, the control system can be used to switch off the inverters when reverse power flow is about to happen.

Solarcentury is one of the most respected solar companies in the world. Founded in 1998, it has been around since the early days of the solar industry and has been part of the evolution that has made PV the attractive investment it is today. Solarcentury has put solar on a greater variety of sites than any other company in the industry, including the world’s largest solar bridge in London-Blackfriars, winning multiple awards for its project and product innovation.

They are excited about the opportunity to work with the various renewable energy stakeholders in Kenya. They have worked with the Kenya Renewable Energy Association on the initial draft on a set of Kenyan PV Installation Guidelines. The Kenyan Association of Manufacturers is now developing this with the assistance of UK Department for International Development.

The development of standards for training and regulation of suppliers and installers is key to building a safe and reliable solar industry; this has been recognized by Kenya’s energy regulator the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) which has imposed a requirement for those companies selling and installing solar systems to be licensed. Solarcentury is proud to have completed this registration process and carries the ERC C1 License.

Here at Garden City, Solarcentury was involved in the solar project from the outset. They worked with the design team to assess a number of options for solar power at the mall and were then engaged to do the detailed design. Once construction started, they supported the shopping mall contractor to make sure that the site was ready to have solar installed; when the contractor reached the roof level, they then carried out the system installation with a team of international and local contractors.

Solarcentury’s business is global and growing, with their headquarters in London UK and offices in Germany, The Netherlands, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, and Latin American countries.

Solarcentury East Africa is based in Nairobi and headed up by Guy Lawrence. Guy has worked in Kenya for many years and has a team of local engineers and project managers. Solarcentury East Africa is fully accredited by the Kenyan Energy Regulatory Commission and has three T3 solar technicians in the team.

Contacts;
Solarcentury East Africa Ltd,
+254 (0)705 957684
[email protected]
www.solarcentury.com

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