Kenya launches Chinese-built 50MW solar power plant

Out-Law News | 19 Dec 2019 | 11:22 am | 1 min. read

Kenya has launched a 50MW solar power plant near Garissa Town. It is one of the largest photovoltaic electricity plants in Africa.

This solar plant was designed and built by the EPC contractor China Jiangxi Corporation for International Economic and Technical Co-operation (CJIC), in conjunction with Kenya's Rural Energy Authority (REA).

According to Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, the power plant is part of a government renewable energy strategy to harvest 400MW of electricity from the country's vast solar resources. He announced that Garissa "is now fully connected to the national power grid".

The project was funded by the Kenyan and Chinese governments. The equipment and technologies are from China.

The plant's output is 100,000MWH a year and is expected to run for 25 years in Kenya, according to representative of CJIC in Kenya Zhang Jian.

This new solar plant has increased the share of renewable energy to the grid to 93%, with geothermal and hydro power the biggest contributors, according to Business Daily Africa.

Infrastructure expert Greg Jones of Pinsent Masons, the firm behind Out-Law, said: "East Africa is often said to be lagging behind other African regions in the speed of development of solar generation capacity, so the successful completion of Garissa is a positive sign for both Kenya and the wider region. "

"The project also demonstrates the Chinese policy banks' willingness to finance African renewables projects and China Inc's ability to deliver cost-competitive solutions in Africa," he said.

The Kenyan renewable energy sector has drawn significant China investment in recent years. According to Africa Policy Institute President Peter Kagwanja, Chinese investment is part of the six trillion Kenyan shillings belt and road fund established by China last year to help expand African infrastructural capacity.