What is Solar Energy?
Solar energy is a form of renewable energy produced by capturing the sun’s rays and converting them into electricity. Solar energy is clean, abundant, and free, making it an attractive option for powering homes and businesses.
Overview of the Current Energy Situation in Kenya
Solar energy has been gaining popularity in Kenya as an alternative to conventional electricity sources. About 57% of the energy in Kenya is hydroelectric, 32% is thermal, geothermal and emergency thermal power make up for the remaining percentage. Wind and solar PV only contribute 2% of the total. However, due to inadequate rainfall, hydropower has only comprised 38–76% of the generation mix. Kenya has exploited thermal energy sources, which make up between 16 and 33% of the mix, to make up for these deficiencies.
Benefits of Solar Energy in Kenya
Solar energy offers several advantages for Kenyan households and businesses. We have listed some of these benefits below.
Cost saving is the most significant benefit of solar energy in Kenya. Solar energy does not require any fuel or chemical inputs, so it is a cost-effective choice for producing power. Solar energy is also cost-free after the first installation fee, which can drastically reduce electricity expenditures.
Using solar energy allows households and businesses to become energy independent. With the help of solar energy, homes and businesses can produce their electricity and rely less on centralized power systems. This is especially advantageous in remote areas without access to the national grid.
Solar energy also helps save the environment. It’s far cleaner than fossil fuels because it does not release any greenhouse gases or other pollutants. Solar power does not need a lot of infrastructure, which might lessen the environmental impact.
The solar energy industry in Kenya is growing and requires labour, making it a source of job opportunities for Kenyans. The industry is creating jobs in solar equipment installation, maintenance, and financing as solar technology becomes more widely available and cost-effective.
Improved Access to Electricity
Kenyans now have better access to electricity because solar energy offers a dependable and reasonably priced alternative to conventional grid-based electricity. Because solar energy users in Kenya do not frequently experience power outages and are less susceptible to disruptions brought on by storms or other natural calamities, so solar energy is more dependable than grid-based electricity. Solar energy systems can also be used in remote areas without access to the grid because they are relatively simple to install. These elements have significantly expanded Kenya’s access to power.
How Solar Energy Works
To understand how solar energy works, it is essential to understand the components needed to generate and store solar energy.
Solar panels harness the sun’s power and turn it into electricity. Typically, the boards use photovoltaic cells to capture solar energy and transform it into direct current (DC) electricity.
Inverters from the direct current (DC) electricity produced by solar panels create alternating current (AC) electricity used to power appliances and gadgets.
The electricity produced by the solar panels is stored in batteries for later use. This makes it possible to use solar energy at night and when the sun is not shining.
Solar energy users who use the net metering system can receive a credit on their power bills for any extra electricity they send to the grid.
Solar Energy Policies and Incentives in Kenya
The Kenyan government has implemented several policies and incentives to encourage the use of solar energy in the country.
Solar energy producers who feed their energy into the grid receive intensives called feed-in tariffs. The possibility of earning money from the power they generate encourages people to invest in solar energy.
Tax exemptions are available for the purchase and installation of solar-powered equipment in Kenya. In 2021, Kenya subjected solar equipment to a 14% VAT 2020, making solar products unaffordable and hindering universal electrification. However, The Kenya Finance Act 2021 amends the First Schedule of the Value Added Tax Act, exempting specialized solar and wind energy equipment from taxation.
Customers that use solar energy may be eligible for rebates on their solar energy systems, which helps lower the installation cost.
Solar energy consumers who need financial assistance to pay for their solar energy systems can apply for soft loans.
Key Players in the Kenyan Solar Energy Industry
The Kenyan solar energy industry includes several key players, including solar equipment suppliers, solar installation companies, solar financing institutions, and government agencies.
Solar Equipment Suppliers
Solar energy consumers can purchase solar panels, inverters, and batteries from solar equipment suppliers. They also offer suggestions and direction on the kind of solar equipment most appropriate for a given application. By providing the necessary components and services, they help make solar energy more accessible and cost-effective to consumers.
Solar Installation Companies
Solar installation firms are in charge of setting up solar power systems. They can offer suggestions for installation, maintenance, and repair because they have experts who understand the technical facets of solar energy.
Solar Financing Institutions
Solar financing institutions provide capital for solar energy projects and make it easier for businesses and households to access clean, affordable solar energy. Customers can make informed judgments regarding their solar energy investments thanks to their technical help and advice.
Government agencies are responsible for setting up the legal, financial, and regulatory frameworks that enable the solar industry to thrive. They also provide support to companies and entrepreneurs in the form of grants, loans, and technical assistance. Additionally, government agencies often collaborate with private companies to develop and deploy solar energy solutions. Finally, they oversee the safe operation of solar energy systems and ensure they comply with all applicable laws and regulations.
Factors to Consider When Installing Solar Panels in Kenya
When installing solar panels in Kenya, several factors must be considered, including location, solar panel type and size, installation cost, and maintenance.
While installing solar panels, location is crucial since the amount of sunshine available will affect how much electricity the system produces. The best places to put up solar panels are those that get enough sunlight all year. In some circumstances, this can entail mounting the panels on a building’s roof or another elevated area to maximize exposure to direct sunlight.
Solar Panel Type and Size
The type and size of the solar panels will decide how much energy the panels produce. There are numerous solar panel sizes and varieties, each with unique performance characteristics. For a particular installation, selecting the correct type and size of the solar panel is crucial because this will affect how much energy the energy will produce.
Depending on the size and complexity of the system, installation fees change. To ensure the installation costs are within your budget, it is crucial to examine them beforehand and include them in the project’s overall cost.
Solar energy systems must be cleaned and maintained regularly to keep running well. When estimating the overall cost of a solar energy system, it is crucial to consider maintenance costs.
In conclusion, solar energy is a sustainable, affordable, and clean energy source that is gaining popularity in Kenya. Cost savings, energy independence, environmental advantages, job development, and greater access to electricity are just some of its benefits. Several laws and programs are in place to promote the use of solar energy, and several significant companies are in the market. When installing solar panels, it is vital to consider the location, solar panel type and size, installation cost, and maintenance. Solar energy has the potential to be a practical and affordable option for Kenyan businesses and households with the correct information and assistance.
Encouragement to adopt solar energy
Solar energy may significantly lower your energy bills and encourage environmental sustainability. Due to the declining installation cost and the availability of grants and other incentives, it is becoming more and more accessible to families and businesses in Kenya. By switching to solar energy, you can lower your electricity costs and contribute to a nation with lower greenhouse gas emissions. Join the growing number of Kenyans changing to clean and renewable energy by doing the same. Solar energy is a fantastic method to lessen your reliance on the grid and improve the environment.
Future of solar energy in Kenya
By 2030, the Kenyan government wants the industry to produce 600 MWp. It has started several projects across the nation to achieve this goal.
- Project Samburu Solar (40 MWp)
- Kisumu’s Kopere Solar Park (22,7 MWp)
- Solar project Witu (40 MWp)
- Project Solar Garissa (55MWp)
- Solar Project in Isiolo County (40 MWp)
- Solar project in Nakuru (25MWp)
The ERC has created standardized power purchase agreements (PPAs) and feed-in tariffs for IPPs with less than 50 MWp in addition to the abovementioned initiatives. The new Energy Bill, now being discussed in Parliament, eliminates the necessity for licensing for internal consumption facilities smaller than 1 MWp while allowing for concepts like net-metering for private consumers.