Construction of East Africa’s largest solar farm to start in earnest

Construction of East Africa's largest solar farm to start in earnest

Work on East Africa’s largest solar farm is now set to kick off despite delays

Construction of East Africa’s largest solar farm is set to start in earnest after the Power plant developer, Rural Electrification Authority (REA), announced that it has concluded a PPA with Kenya Power to sell electricity generated from the solar farm at $0.12/kWh.

The solar farm will sit on 85-hectares of land with 200,200 solar panels and is expected to be the largest in East and Central Africa.

Reports indicate that China  will be funding the East Africa’s largest solar farm in Kenya.

China Jiangxi is the contractor of the project with funding of $135.7 million loan from Exim Bank of China.

The 55MW solar farm in the north eastern town of Kenyan county of Garissa is expected to produce power to light up 625,000 homes in the country.

The construction of East Africa’s largest solar farm was expected to start in July but the project suffered delays, in part due to prolonged talks for the PPA with Kenya Power.

Reduce carbon emmissions

The solar plant is expected to reduce Kenya’s carbon emissions by about 43,000 tonnes per year for trading in the global carbon market.

REA chairman Simon Gicharu said the project would also help the country create employment opportunities offering at least 1,000 jobs.

“We are setting up a mini-city in the middle of a desert with over 1,000 workers, meaning we are opening up that place,” he said.

Kenya’s  total power capacity stands at 2,333MW, with solar power accounting for less than 1%.

However, this percentage is set to improve as Gicharu had previously said the plant will be connected to the grid therefore; some of the power generated will also be consumed in Nairobi.

In 2013 Kenya set an ambitious target to install additional 5,000MW of power into the grid by end of 2017 generated from renewable sources such as geothermal, solar and wind farms.

Energy in Africa continues to be a major deterrent of development. Solar energy has emerged to be a major investment area for countries in Africa. Currently, Morocco leads Africa with largest capacity of Solar power.

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