Kenya in line for 40MW utility PV power plant

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Kenyan independent power producer, Greenmillenia Energy, is planning a 40MW utility PV power plant in the East African country.

The plant, which is planned for Kenya’s northern Isiolo county, would be the first solar project to qualify for Kenya's feed-in tariff.

Greenmillenia Energy said the plant was at a pre-finance stage of development.

“We are very confident that the proposed project will achieve financial close and advance to the construction phase over the next 12 month time frame. Detailed feasibilities have already been submitted to the regulatory authority as a prelude to PPA [power purchase agreement] negotiations,” project director, Bartholomew Simiyu, told PV Tech.

Although Kenya’s feed-in tariff has been in place for some time, no PV projects have yet been built under the scheme.

Critics have said the FiT is insufficient to make projects viable, while developers have complained of a multitude of other barriers to implementing projects, including land ownerships rights and Kenya’s tax regime.

But Simiyu said he was confident the Isiolo project would be completed.

“No utility project of this scale and magnitude in Kenya has reached this level of development before and our team has overcome the paucity of development capital through ingenious strategies to get us to where we are today,” he said.

“Think of the South African green energy economy prior to the implementation of the REIPPP [renewable energy independent power producer procurement] process. The doubters and nay sayers have been emphatically silenced.”

Simiyu said the project was fully developed and that the company was awaiting instruction from the off-taker, KPLC, to begin PPA negotiations. Detail on prospective financiers was not forthcoming, but Simyu said further announcements would be made later this month.

Despite the apparent difficulties in building FiT-qualified plants in Kenya, distributed PV projects built outside the FiT have seen more success.

Last year, local developers and UK-based firm Solarcentury completed Kenya’s largest PV project, a 1MW project at a tea farm.

Solarcentury has since announced plans to join forces with Nairobi-based developer, East African Solar, to pursue further commercial PV projects in the region.

The opportunities and challenges for PV in East Africa will be under discussion at Solar Energy East Africa, organised by PV Tech’s publisher, Solar Media. The event will be held in Nairobi on 10-11 March. Further details are available here.

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