Kenya sets record straight on solar goals

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email

Wildly varying reports of Kenya’s plans for deploying solar energy have been dismissed by power industry and policy figures in the East African country.

Last week the UK’s Guardian newspaper reported that Kenya was planning to source over 50% of its electricity by 2016 from solar projects across just nine separate sites, at a cost of US$1.2 billion.

These claims, citing an employee of the Kenya Renewable Energy Association (KREA), were at odds with a report by the Bloomberg news service before Christmas suggesting some kind of moratorium had been placed on the issuing of licences for solar and wind projects in the country until 2017.

But following inquiries by PV Tech, both claims have been debunked by figures in Kenya’s energy ministry, regulator and national power utility company.

The Guardian report cited comments from Cliff Owiti, a senior administrator with Kenya Renewable Energy Association (KEREA) claiming that the country had identified nine sites where it was planning to build solar plants to supply “half the country’s electricity by 2016”.

But Kevin Sang, communications officer for the electricity utility, Kenya Power, said The Guardian claims were “farfetched” and confirmed Kenya Power had been given no government direction in regard to a 50% penetration of solar.

Meanwhile, Lee Okombe, spokesman for Kenya’s Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), dismissed the Guardian report.

“I have liaised with KEREA and I can firmly report that the Guardian report is null and void. Cliff Owiti was not interviewed and so the information in that report has no basis. As of now there are no specific targets for solar energy in the country,” Okombe said.

Owiti did not respond in person to PV Tech’s questions about the basis of the report. In an email to PV Tech, the association’s chairman, Charles Muchunku, deferred questions to the country’s energy ministry.

“We are an association made up of private business. We don't make policy, where possible we try and make a case for policies more conducive for the RE [renewable energy] sector in Kenya,” he added.

Janosch Ondraczek, a researcher on the solar energy markets of East Africa Hamburg University, pointed out that the US$1.2 billion figure quoted in the Guardian would only purchase around 600MW of solar – not enough to double the country’s current generation capacity, as stated in the report. Kenya currently has an installed generation capacity of around 1,600MW.

‘No moratorium’

PV Tech has also been able to confirm that no official moratorium has been placed on the issuing of licences for solar in Kenya.

The Bloomberg report that originally carried these claims quoted Kenya’s energy secretary Davis Chirchir, who apparently said the issuing of licences for solar and wind projects had been suspended until 2017.

After the initial report appeared at the end of last year, inquiries into the matter were inconclusive, with relevant parties claiming ignorance of any brake on solar development rather than issuing outright denials of the article.

However, the Ministry of Energy, ERC and Kenya Power have all now issued equivocal statements to PV Tech that no solar moratorium has been instituted.

Dickson Murira, a senior economist in the ministry’s renewable energy department, told PV Tech the report was “untrue and misleading”.

“The government of Kenya recognises the role of renewable energy and [its] positive environmental benefits, and remains committed to enhancing private investment in the solar energy sector,” Murira said.

He said the Kenyan government was still pursuing renewable energy sources such as solar and wind as part of a national plan to build 5GW of new generation capacity by 2017 – although much of this is expected to come from coal and gas plants.

Kenya Power’s Sang confirmed: “There is no moratorium on any technology. The only condition that has been added is for wind power developers under the feed-in tariff for their projects not to be within a radius of 50km from an existing Ministry of Energy Metmast (data logger).”

The ERC’s Okombe added: “We are still issuing licences for solar projects so there is no need for worry by investors.”

A recent draft energy strategy for Kenya set provisional solar targets of 100MW by 2017, 200MW by 2022 and 500MW by 2030.

Since setting a revised feed-in tariff rate of US$0.12 at the end of 2012, the energy ministry has been inviting bids for large-scale PV projects.

Kenya’s director of renewable energy, Isaac Kiva, revealed in an interview with PV Tech’s sister journal, Solar Business Focus, that since the FiT revision, the government had received applications for PV projects totalling around 300MW.

These projects are now under consideration by the authorities and will be issued licences as long as they satisfy technical feasibility and financial criteria.

One source who did not want to be named said Kenya was “open for solar business”.

-Additional reporting by Ben Willis

A full version of the interview with Isaac Kiva will be published in the next issue of Solar Business Focus, in early February. Kiva will be a keynote speaker at our event Solar and Off-Grid Renewables Africa 2014 in Nairobi, Kenya, in March. Further information is available here.

19 August 2021
The utility-scale PV market is poised for exponential growth and yet the industry still has many fundamental opportunities to improve on standards and best practice. Tracker shade loss has been one of those topics that deserve more attention, but has been typically handled by derate factors rather than trying to accurately forecast the loss over the life of the system. Join Nextracker’s subject matter experts, Aron Dobos and Neelesh Umachandran, and Rounak Kharait, director of solar energy assessments at DNV, for a webinar about why shade modeling matters and recommendations on what the solar industry should do about it.
25 August 2021
Energy Next is a new industry exhibition focusing on the latest renewable energy and energy efficiency technology, which will be held for the first time in 2021 in Sydney, Australia alongside the Clean Energy Council’s Australian Clean Energy Summit, the peak gathering of leaders driving Australia's energy transformation. Organised by the same people behind Australia’s largest clean energy event, All-Energy Australia, Energy Next will give visitors two days of access to key suppliers in the industry, free-to-attend professional development and industry workshops, and networking opportunities to better understand clean energy issues and solutions and learn about the latest developments in this transformational, dynamic sector.
25 August 2021
The Intersolar Summit Brasil Nordeste takes place in Fortaleza, Brazil. It addresses leading local and international experts on solar power and renewable energy in the region. The Summit’s mission is to provide in-depth education, enable high-quality networking opportunities, expand the use of PV technologies at regional and national level and strengthen the local PV industry. The Intersolar Summit Brasil Nordeste is organized by Intersolar South America - Latin America’s largest exhibition and conference for the solar industry: Solar Promotion International GmbH, Pforzheim, Freiburg Management and Marketing International GmbH (FMMI) and Aranda Eventos & Congressos Ltda, São Paulo as co-organizer.
25 August 2021
Join us to hear directly from the CTOs and heads-of-research from the top-20 cell/wafer producers to the PV industry today. The event will focus on predicting the key metrics underpinning the next big shift to n-type with answers to the key questions: When will the transition to n-type happen? Which companies will be first to 10 GW capacity and production? Who will be the key equipment suppliers for the new production lines? Which n-type process flow/architecture will emerge as the front-runner? What will polysilicon purity and wafer thickness levels look like for optimized n-type manufacturing? What will the upstream poly/wafer supply-chain look like in 5 years from now?
26 August 2021
In this webinar, JA Solar will present its product portfolio based on the latest technologies to improve your PV projects, ensuring maximum reliability and performance. During the webinar we will receive insight from JA Solar about its solar technology roadmap and how the manufacturer is providing customers with innovative solutions to suit their needs, while we will also analyse how to determine the best product solution for each solar project.
6 September 2021
The 38th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition will be held online from 6 - 10 September 2021, allowing PV experts from all around the globe to participate with just one click! The EU PVSEC is the world's leading forum for PV Research and Development and the biggest Conference on PV Solar Energy worldwide. That is why PV experts from all around the globe are keen on gathering together each year to be part of this specialist’s event, to present and discuss the latest developments in Photovoltaics, to network and to conduct business.

Read Next

July 29, 2021
Tracker and racking provider Arctech has delivered SkySmart II tracking system to a 575MW agriculture-sharing solar project located in Nangong City, Hebei Province, China.
July 29, 2021
Unigreen Energy, owned by Hevel majority shareholder Ream Management LLC, has broken ground on a wafer and cell manufacturing plant that will produce 1.3GW of silicon n-type monocrystalline ingots and wafers as well as 1GW of heterojunction technology (HJT) solar cells.
July 29, 2021
Meyer Burger has revealed plans to launch a solar roof tile product, expanding its rooftop solar product range.
July 29, 2021
US residential solar installer SunPower has partnered with EV charging provider Wallbox to add EV charging technologies to its portfolio.
July 29, 2021
US residential solar installer Sunnova said it was investing in its end-to-end solar services to cater for customers demanding more from their rooftop installations.
July 29, 2021
The US Senate has passed a new bipartisan infrastructure bill after weeks of protracted discussions, establishing US$550 billion in new infrastructure funding as part of an investment described as “once-in-a-generation”.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Webinars
August 19, 2021
At 9am (PT) | 6pm (CEST)
Solar Media Events
August 25, 2021
Solar Media Events
October 6, 2021
Solar Media Events
October 19, 2021