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State-owned Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) plans to set up a solar panel manufacturing factory in Murang’ a county with an annual production capacity of 5MW to 10MW.The factory will be located within KenGen Tana Power Station in Murang’a, in an existing warehouse.
“The new solar PV panel plant is expected to have 5MWe to 10MWe (peak electrical power) yearly production capacity,” says KenGen.
The electricity producer has floated an international tender inviting firms to bid for the construction of the plant.The successful company will design, supply, install, train and commission a silicon-based solar PV panel production plant.
It will also provide enough solar PV panel materials for the initial production and also train KenGen staff for on-site and off-site operation and maintenance of the plant. Interested companies visited the site on March 18 and will submit proposals by April 15.KenGen’s announcement comes at a time that local and foreign investors are excited about the prospects of growth in the solar power industry in Kenya.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), solar power—which is expanding faster than all other renewables combined —and wind power are the two clean energy sources with the biggest global growth.Solar power is seen as an option for rural electrification and decentralised applications.
Kenya has high insolation rates, with an average of five to seven peak sunshine hours and average daily insolation of four to six kWh/m2. About 10 to 14 percent of this energy can be converted into electricity.
Solar systems for households and public institutions have been subsidised as the government aims to install an additional 500MW and 300,000 domestic solar systems by 2030.
Wind and solar power producers, however, face uncertain times after the State announced a freeze on the signing of new large power purchase agreements.
The Energy ministry said last year Kenya would freeze deals with power generators from the two intermittent sources.Energy secretary Charles Keter said there is a need to balance the level of the intermittent sources of power — wind and solar — in the national grid to guarantee stability.
“The freeze on new power purchase agreement will mainly affect wind and power producers since they are not very stable sources and we cannot afford to have a huge portion of our generation mix from them,” he said.