In a rather surprising but expected move, Kenya’s sole distributor of electricity – the Kenya power is set to enter the solar market. The parastatal which has enjoyed monopoly in the sector for years but faces a threat from an increasing uptake of solar power by private firms and homes, is now choosing to offer on grid solar energy instead of opposing the greener energy. The move is attributed to the power distributor’s efforts to stay relevant in a fast-changing world, especially following an uptake by its main customers.
A simple look at new homes in the country shows just how solar power is becoming popular in Kenya with almost every new home opting to fit a panel on its roof top rather than having to part with costly installation fees from the utility provider. Solar power has also proved to be more reliable and cheaper than Kenya Power’s grid, encouraging heavy industrial companies as well as private homes to utilize it as an alternative to the power utility.
Recently, there was an outcry after reports emerged that the government was making it impossible for private homes to install solar panels through guidelines that were somehow seen as a response to Kenya Power’s diminishing fortunes. The guidelines received a backlash from citizens, showing a clear intent by many of them to use solar instead of the utility firm’s services.
According to reports from internal documents seen by Business Daily, the utility firm indicates that Kenyans will benefit from cheaper solar energy generated during sunny hours and will avail storage with minimum autonomy to cancel out effects of short duration supply interruptions which has been a major talking point for industrial companies.
Under Kenya power’s plan, consumers who need solar powered energy will have panels installed on their roof tops by contracted private firms under the design-build-finance and operate (DBFO) model. The utility company will then undertake the role of project management by liaising with interested commercial and industrial customers to give space on their rooftops or ground for installation of photovoltaic modules. Grid tied solar plants will then be installed at private homes, who will in return get power at discounted rates.