A 1MW PV power plant, currently the largest in East Africa, has been completed at the Changoi Team Farm in Kenya.

The plant will enable to the farm’s owner, Williamson Tea, to save on power costs by reducing dependency on expensive grid power and diesel back-up.

Built by British firm, Solarcentury and developed by local firms, East African Solar and Azimuth Power, the plant will work in parallel with the grid, reducing the farm’s reliance on grid power.

During power outages, the solar system will work together with the standby diesel generators, reducing the amount of diesel consumed.

Overall, the system is expected to cut the farm’s power costs by 30%.

Solarcentury said this kind of system had only been built in five other places worldwide.

“In a country blessed with plentiful irradiance and land space, solar is a perfect solution and reduces dependence on fossil fuels while improving energy security,” said Dan Davies, Solarcentury’s East Africa director.

Frans van den Heuvel, Solarcentury CEO, added: “Williamson Tea’s solar farm in Changoi is a shining example of the opportunity for solar in Africa, and indeed the emerging markets, to help meet the increasing energy demands of growing economies. Sustainable energy sources are becoming more critical especially as the cost of fossil fuel energy continues to rise globally.”

The opportunities and challenges of PV in Africa will be explored in depth at PV Tech publisher Solar Media's Doing Solar Business East & West Africa, which will be held on 3 June in Munich during Intersolar Europe week. Further details on the event are available here. Watch PV Tech's video blog on solar in East Africa, including an interview with East African Solar chief executive, Guy Lawrence, here.

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