Solar Energy Resources
Kenya receives daily insolation of 4-6kWh/m2. Solar utilization is mainly for photovoltaic (PV) systems, drying and water heating. The solar PV systems are used mainly for telecommunication, cathodic protection of pipelines, lighting and water pumping. Some of the barriers affecting the exploitation of solar energy resource include high initial capital costs, low awareness of the potential opportunities and economic benefits offered by solar technologies, and a lack of adherence to system standards by suppliers.
The Government has zero-rated the import duty and removed Value Added Tax (VAT) on renewable energy equipment and accessories. The Energy Regulatory Commission has prepared and gazetted the Energy (Solar Water Heating) Regulations 2012 and The Energy (Solar Photovoltaic) Regulations 2012 to provide the much needed policy framework.
A vibrant solar energy market has developed in Kenya over the years for providing electricity to homes and institutions remote from the national grid and for medium temperature water heaters for domestic and commercial usage. A preliminary survey done in 2005 established that the annual market demand for Photo Voltaic (PV) panels was 500 kilowatt peak (kWp) and this was projected to grow at 15% annually.
A government programme which commenced in 2005 to provide basic electricity to boarding schools and health facilities in remote areas has increased the annual demand for PV panels by 400 kilowatt peak. Out of approximately 3,000 eligible institutions, 450 have been equipped with PV Systems with a combined capacity of 1,450 kilowatts peak in the last four years. Another 400 institutions are earmarked to benefit from installation of PV systems with a combined estimated capacity of 80 kilowatts peak. There is also the wider market provided by the other member states of the East African Community and COMESA. It is estimated that the initial market demand for PV systems is one megawatt peak, and this presents a great opportunity to investors in PV panels manufacture.
An opportunity also exists for manufacture of associated components and accessories, such as charge controllers, inverters and PV batteries. The Northern Kenya and other arid lands have strong reliable sunshine throughout the year thus providing high potential for investment in solar energy for sale to the national grid. Almost the whole of North Eastern province has this potential.