Kenya Power & Lighting Co. Ltd. (Kenya Power), the country's main power utility, is developing renewable power projects in North Eastern and Rift Valley provinces at a total cost of 560 million shillings (one USD = about 86 shillings) to complement diesel generation in areas not connected to the National Grid.

Once operational, the solar and wind power projects will help Kenya Power reduce the use of fuel that runs the

off-grid diesel generators, thereby saving an estimated Shs.50 million annually, says the
Kenya Power Deputy Manager in charge of off-grid stations, Henry Gichungi.

He over the weekend that the company had so far commissioned eight solar and wind projects with a total installed capacity of one megawatt (MW).

Gichungi said the renewable power projects had benefited customers in Merti, Habaswein, Lodwar, Elwak, Mandera, Marsabit in Eastern and North Eastern provinces, and Hola in Coast province. Plans are in place to increase the commissioned renewable energy capacity in off-grid areas by 2.3 MW, he added.

Wajir will be the biggest beneficiary with solar and wind projects totalling 1.3 MW, he said. The renewable power projects, which are wholly funded by the State, are part of the company's and government's strategy to accelerate electricity access in all parts of the country, including off-grid areas.

"Kenya's geographical location astride the equator gives it a unique advantage for a solar energy market. The country receives good solar insolation all year round coupled with moderate to high temperatures which makes it a conducive market for solar," Gichungi noted. -- NNN-KBC