Written By: Jim Greenberg
Solar power will generate over half of Kenya’s electricity by 2016, after the government invested US$1.2 billion jointly with private companies to build nine solar power plants across the country.
With initial design stages almost complete, construction of the nine plants totaling US$1.2 billion (£73 million) will begin in 2014 and is expected to last two years. The solar plants are expected to bring down the country’s overall energy costs while providing environmental protection.
“We hope that when the entire project is completed by 2016, more than 50% of Kenya’s energy production will consist of solar”, says Cliff Owiti, senior administrator at the Kenya Renewable Energy Association. “Already we are witnessing solar investments in Kenya such as a factory that was opened here in 2011 that manufactures solar energy panels.”
Economics professor Germano Mwabu of the University of Nairobi estimates that the plants’ completion could reduce the country’s energy costs by as much as 80%.
Further efforts to expand clean-energy security in Africa include Ethiopia’s plans to develop a 1000 megawatt (MW) geothermal plant and its recent launch of a wind farm with 84 high-tech turbines that, at full capacity, is expected to produce 400 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year.
Furthermore, a report from growth consulting firm Frost & Sullivan comparing the cost of solar PV to other energy sources in South Africa found that solar could become the cheapest generating technology, reaching R1.69 (rands) a kilowatt hour by 2020.