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Solar energy to boost power supply in the country

20 August 2013, 12:27

Nairobi - As the government strives to increase its energy circulation to boost its economic development and meet its long-term plan of creating a medium-scale industrialized state by 2030, prospects of exploring alternative sources to scale up the national grid are inevitable.

Currently, the country's power generation capacity stands at about 1,600 MW. However, the government has proactively ventured into tapping thermal and geothermal power to raise its grid capacity to 3,000 MW by 2015.

According to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), demand for the electricity supply is expected to shoot up by at least 11.2 percent due to the rapid economic and population growth.

Under the country's Vision 2030, the leadership intends to meet a 40 percent penetration of rural electricity by 2014. This is in line with its prospect of creating a globally competitive and prosperous nation with a high quality of life.

And in a move presumably set to upscale the country's national energy output, a Chinese state corporation is set to put up a solar firm within the Rift Valley region.

The Dongfang Electric International Corporation prospects to put up the firm within Nakuru County, located to the northwestern part of Nairobi-Kenya's capital city.

The firm will generate 50 MW of power to be fed into the country's national energy grid.

While seeking collaborative support towards establishing the solar firm, the corporation's top executive met Nakuru County Governor Kinuthia Mbugua on July 30, during which they agreed on rules of engagement in a Memorandum of Understanding.

Both officials from the corporation and Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources are expected to begin undertaking a feasibility study from August to determine the appropriate site to set up the solar firm.

"There are various factors to be considered before we finally embark on constructing the firm. And together with the Kenyan government, we will undertake comprehensive assessment on all the potential sites before we agree on the appropriate location," said the corporation's Vice President Hu Weidong.

The project, according to Hu, will be facilitated through the bilateral kitty Chinese Fund established through consensual agreements between Kenya and China.

"This is a project spread out for three years and we expect to have completed doing the environmental impact studies before the takeoff of the project is approved. We hope by early next year we will have done so and immediately embark on constructing the firm, " Hu added.

As a prerequisite for the establishment of the firm is the acquisition of 100 acres in an environment free from animal and human interference.

Mbugua identified energy as a major proponent to the economic development of a state noting that the project will greatly enhance penetration of cheap energy to the villages.

"This project will promote distribution of cheap energy and reduce the cost of energy connectivity which has and is still high. Energy is a main factor that is considered by investors and if we reduce its charges, we will be attracting investments into the country," Mbugua noted.

Being a world renowned power generating corporation, Mbugua tossed a proposal to the development partners to consider extending its energy production projects to all the major towns and cities across the East African state.

Easy accessibility to energy he said will engineer the establishment of more industries in all the regions in the developing state and hence boosting its economic growth.

- Xinhua

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