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The President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, unveiled the 54MW Garissa solar power plant that cost Shs13 billion in Mbalambala, Garissa County, Kenya. Rural Energy Authority (REA) developed the facility which is the largest in East and Central Africa and adds to Kenya’s profile as a leader in renewable energy generation in Africa. The power plant is part of a broad renewable energy strategy by the government to harvest 400MW of electricity from the country’s vast solar resource. Garissa, which previously depended on unstable thermal power is now fully connected to the national power grid according to the Presidents announcement.
Construction of the Solar Power Plant
China Jiangxi Corporation for International Economic and Technical Co-operation (CJIC) was the EPC contractor that designed and built the plant, in conjunction with Kenya’s Rural Energy Authority (REA) after its commissioning in November 2018. The plant is occupying 210 acres and the solar panels sit on 120 acres. During the construction, Kenya’s Rural Energy Authority (REA) dug a borehole for the community and the project employed about 600 people from the community, who were the first beneficiaries of the project.
Zhang Jian, country representative of CJIC in Kenya said the firm trained 50 local experts for the installation of solar panels, operation and repairs for the project which is currently meeting power demand of over 70,000 households (some 350,000 people) in Kenya, equivalent to some 50 per cent of the population of Garissa. The local economic growth in Garissa is expected to receive a boost from the new power source, relieving environmental stress.
The country is going to be bigger in renewable energy, especially by working with counties. “There have been up to 26 mini-grids done mainly in Northern Kenya, only two are awaiting commissioning,” said Peter Mbugua, the chief executive officer of REA. He also said that the Solar Power Plant in Garissa had already been generating power for the past year.