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Solar energy offers a great opportunity for underserved regions

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Solar energy offers a great opportunity for underserved regions

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Solar energy offers a great opportunity for underserved regions


Alternative sources of energy such as the sun and wind are generally less scarce and less polluting. stock photo | nmg

Summary

  • The off-grid solar market remains a key step towards achieving the seventh United Nations Sustainable Development Goal: universal access to energy for all by 2030.
  • In Kenya, a strategy has been put in place to deliberately harness and optimize alternative energy sources such as the sun to ensure that citizens living in counties outside the best-served central corridor also have access to modern energy.

The off-grid solar market remains a key step towards achieving the seventh United Nations Sustainable Development Goal: universal access to energy for all by 2030.

In Kenya, a strategy has been put in place to deliberately harness and optimize alternative energy sources such as the sun to ensure that citizens living in counties outside the best-served central corridor also have access to modern energy.

Several factors favor the optimal use of solar energy for use by homes and community facilities in Kenya. For starters, according to the World Bank’s Global Solar Atlas, Kenya is among the countries with the highest irradiation or solar yield in Africa.

Second, Kenya has a well-developed stand-alone solar photovoltaic (PV) market, which in the past two decades has become a magnet for investors due to its depth and dynamism.

While this market began to be nurtured in the mid-1980s, its development received renewed impetus when Kenya, along with Ghana, was chosen as one of the two pilot countries for the World Bank’s Lighting Africa project.

Led by the World Bank and its private sector lending wing, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Lighting Africa was the first private sector-oriented effort to harness new light-emitting diode (LED) lighting technologies to build markets. sustainable to provide modern and safe services. Affordable, off-grid lighting for communities in Africa lacking access to the power grid.

One of Lighting Africa’s greatest successes was the development of standards and testing methodology to support quality products on the market. According to the Off-Grid Solar Market Trends Report released by the World Bank in March 2020, about 42 percent of all solar energy solutions sold in Kenya meet Global Lighting Standards, compared to the three percent in 2009.

Kenya’s standalone solar systems (SSS) market is marked by unique investor-oriented innovations including efficient supply channels for the cash sale of portable lanterns and SSS for homes; the deployment of Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) systems through affordable monthly installments, mostly paid through mobile money, for which Kenya is a famous cradle, and the mobilization of debt and equity capital to finance business expansion.

It is this robust SSS market that the Kenya Off-Grid Solar Access Project (KOSAP) seeks to deepen to bring modern energy solutions to communities in underserved and off-grid parts of Kenya.

KOSAP is being rolled out in 14 underserved counties. These counties include Kwale, Kilifi, Taita Taveta, Tana Tiver, Garissa, Mandera, Wajir, and Marsabit. Others are Turkana, West Pokot, Samburu, Narok, Lamu, and Isiolo.

Tellingly, self-contained solar systems (SSS) and clean kitchen solutions (CCS) for homes are an integral component of the five-year project, supported by the World Bank for a sum of Sh15 billion and being implemented. by the Kenyan Ministry of Energy. Energy and Lighting Company (KP) and Rural Electrification and Renewable Energies Corporation (REREC).

The third component of the project is stand-alone solar systems and solar water pumps for community facilities. Target community facilities include health, education, and local administrators’ offices.

KOSAP seeks to have 250,000 homes served by standalone solar systems and 150,000 homes served by Clean Cooking Solutions (CCS) by the end of the project in 2023.

KOSAP is also looking to build 157 mini-grids in selected counties that will be used to connect about 61,500 homes with solar energy.

Similarly, around 473 public facilities, including secondary schools, health clinics and administrative offices, will receive solar energy under the project. A total of 380 wells currently using diesel and other fuels will also benefit from the solar power installation.

Integral to KOSAP is a unique financing model designed to incentivize solar service providers (SSPs) and modern cookstove vendors to establish a sales and aftermarket infrastructure in selected counties.

Shillings 500 million has already been disbursed to 19 Kenyan companies, which are actively selling on the ground.

Dr. Njoroge is the Chief Secretary of the Ministry of Energy.

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