There are currently around 750 megawatts (MW) worth of feed-in tariff (FiT) approved solar PV projects in the pipeline in Kenya, according to the country’s director of renewable energy.
While that number includes many projects that are currently only in the feasibility study stage, there are a number of projects that are further along — including the 20 MW plant being installed in Nairobi by Strathmore University. That project is intended to function as a pilot for the development of further large-scale, grid-tied solar projects in Kenya.
The country’s director of renewable energy, Isaac Kiva, notes that the approved capacity is spread out amongst 25 projects. Speaking at the the Solar & Off-Grid Renewables Africa conference in Nairobi on March 4th, he noted that, after projects finished up the feasibility study stage, they would then proceed to the power purchase agreement (PPA) stage.
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Until Kenya’s FiT was revised in 2012 to US$0.12/kWh, it had attracted little interest, but Kiva said last year the Kenyan government had received applications for 112 projects across all renewable energy types.
Kiva also revealed that Kenya was pressing ahead with plans to introduce a new net metering policy for smaller PV systems; the FiT is only available for projects of 0.5-40MW.
He said last week the government had heard presentations from a consultancy hired to advise on net metering, and that it looked as though the policy was a “viable option” for Kenya, potentially opening up the market to more small PV installations.
The chief executive of African Solar Designs (the company hired to conduct the net metering study for the country), Mark Hankins, noted during his own speech at the event that “net metering was ‘not an easy argument’ to win due to fears on the part of utility companies over the harm the policy may do to their revenues.”
“We have to get the utilities to be more comfortable with the idea. But Kenya is leading the way with this and I think we will learn more about this [soon],” he continued.
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