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Published on July 28th, 2015 | by Joshua S Hill


$2.2 Billion, 1 Gigawatt Solar Project In Kenya Moves Forward

July 28th, 2015 by  

Originally published on Solar Love.

Last Friday, North America’s SkyPower announced that it would be signing a solar deal with Kenya for a 1 gigawatt (1,000 megawatt), $2.2 billion development project.

SkyPower released a media advisory last Friday, which announced that the self-proclaimed “world’s largest developer and owner of utility-scale PV energy projects” was expecting to sign a “landmark agreement” with the Kenyan Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, which would pave the way for the development of a series of 1 GW “world-class” solar projects in Kenya over the next five years.

The deal is expected to amount to $2.2 billion, and was to be signed in Nairobi at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit.

There had been little news after the announcement of an announcement, with no official updates from SkyPower. However, the media ran with the story over the weekend, thanks in part to US President Barack Obama’s presence at the Summit.

Yesterday, SkyPower put out a release confirming that the deal was signed, and that the project would be built in 4 phases over the coming 5 years.

“SkyPower’s US $2.2 billion investment will create more than 25,000 total job years in Kenya and includes 200 MW of fabrication and assembly facilities, as well as a commitment of US $173 million toward education, training, and research and development,” said SkyPower Executive Vice President Charles Cohen, by way of EnergyTrend.

The news comes following several similar announcements by SkyPower for development of solar projects in emerging nations. Earlier this month, SkyPower announced a 150 MW collection of solar power projects it intends to develop in India, in the central state of Madhya Pradesh. The company offered a record-low bid for the country.

Meanwhile, in March of this year, SkyPower announced another “landmark agreement,” this time with Egypt, for 3,000 MW of utility-scale solar PV projects to be built over the next 4 years.

“The monumental US $2.2 billion agreement was signed in Nairobi, Kenya at the sixth annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES),” SkyPower writes. “GES 2015 hosted an unprecedented convention of high-level leaders from around the globe, including U.S. President Barack Obama and H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya. SkyPower proudly sponsored the summit as an official Solar Energy Partner.”

Kenya has become an African hub for innovation and entrepreneurship, and SkyPower is proud to contribute to this unprecedented milestone in Kenya’s ambitious renewable energy plan,” said SkyPower President and Chief Executive Officer Kerry Adler. “SkyPower’s solar projects will help Kenya realize its electrification goals, support the development of the country’s renewable energy industry and help the development of strong communities, generating a brighter future for all.”

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  • Matt

    Kenya gets a 200 MW of fabrication plant. That is almost as big a deal for them as the GW farm over 5 years

  • Very pleased that a solar business is doing big installations in Africa as I was worried that USA coal was unloading the coal that it could not sell at home.

    • Kenneth Ferland

      Africa has plenty of domestic coal potential and would not become an importer, that makes it particularly tempting. Botswana is the country to watch as the whole country is literally sitting on a 500 ft thick slab of coal.

  • Frankyzilla

    This is great news for Kenya. Kenya already generates 70% of it’s energy from renewables which makes it a top country in terms of green energy. Unfortunately more than 70% of it’s people don’t yet have access to electricity. However, it is clearly moving in the right direction. It is already home to the largest wind-farm in development in Africa, and now this project will help to spur further efforts in clean energy. Excellent news for Kenya & Africa.

  • Richard Foster

    This is important news. Clear indications that at least *some* “developing” countries are leapfrogging the fossils fuels step and proceeding straight to renewables. Offers hope, because most predictions (eg BNEF) have said that they think the 2C ‘limit’ will be breached because of “developing” nations not being able to resist cheap coal.

    Now if there was a viable solution for aviation, I’d almost be positive…

    • Bob_Wallace


      Move as much travel as reasonable to electrified high speed rail.

      Use biofuels or synfuel made from renewable energy for the flights that can’t be moved to HSR.

      People might have to accept a bit longer travel time using HSR at it’s longest runs, but the comfort level is much higher than flying. Even business class flying.

      Flying with non-petroleum fuels might be somewhat more expensive, but that might just be a price we would have to pay. It would be more than offset by cheaper driving.

      Hope the Hyperloop works. If so, we could move all moderate and long distance travel to the Loop.

      • Richard Foster

        That’s the logical solution. Unfortunately will the world be able to accept that?

        In a extreme world (i.e. the one we live driven by greed and neoliberalism) where time = money = everything, I just can’t see people accepting longer journey times.

        Has the US even proposed a network of high-speed rail? If there was anywhere it’s needed, it’s the US – so many short-haul domestic flights….(although Europe is catching fast).

        Hyperloop would be the viable alternative, even if it’s going to cost a fortune to build. But it might not work.

        Even if it does, will it be capable of trans-atlantic (or similar) journeys? Weather as well as engineering factors are important at those distances.

        The amount of land needed for biofuels for even 1/3 of current flights is ridiculous I think (I need to check the maths).

        However, we do need a solution and relatively quickly even if we want to ignore Global Warming problems. At current consumption levels, there is approx 60 years oil left (maybe a bit more), and given the probable rapid shift to electric transport (i.e. less than 20 years for at least 60% EVs IMO), demand will drop, thus (as we are already seeing), riskier more expensive ventures (arctic drilling/tar sands) will not be exploited (or are more unlikely to), thus there may not even be that much.
        Now this may not sound good news, but it means there is pressure on aviation to (already) look for sustainable alternatives.


        • As the share of the population directly paying for gasoline falls, it will become politically acceptable to implement a carbon tax. The aviation industry can’t hold that back alone.

          • Richard Foster

            Maybe. Or neoliberal governments will prop up their mates in the oil and gas industry?

            Aviation in the UK doesn’t pay VAT on fuel at the moment. Yet we have very high taxes on petrol…

          • Bob_Wallace

            Help me out here. Aren’t high fuel and electricity taxes in Europe designed to lower usage, increase efficiency? Seems like that was the thinking when they were implemented long ago.

            If the motivation for high fuel taxes is efficiency those taxes wouldn’t be need so much for businesses (airlines, factories) which are much more sensitive to the bottom line than Joe and Jane Typical.

        • Bob_Wallace

          The East Coast has Sort of Fast Rail. There are plans underway to build the US’s first HSR system in California.

          Apparently work is underway. There’s a story in the news from two days ago about a building being torn down in Fresno for a HSR overpass.

          I get the feeling that people are now sort of holding back a bit on HSR, waiting to see if the Hyperloop is feasible.

          I don’t see coast to coast travel by HSR in the US. It’s just too far. If the Hyperloop (or some other type of very rapid ground transportation) doesn’t work then we need to look at biofuels/synfuels or even battery powered air flight.

          I’m not so sure about land requirements for biofuel. We are now using about one fourth of our corn crop for ethanol. That use should go away with EVs. Then we have options like growing a crop of oil seeds in wheat fields when those field typically sit fallow.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Global travel via Hyperloop.

            Suppose it does work, has the ability to move people at 800 miles per hour safely and comfortably at a good cost.

            We could build systems to optimal points for airliner ‘hops’ across oceans and mountain ranges.

            A West Coast US system taking people north toward the Bering Strait. Planes fly Arctic circle routes now. Terminate the Loop somewhere that would provide an airport with limited weather problems. Fly them to someplace on the Asian side and put them back on the Loop.

            We could hop the Western mountain ranges with airports in CA and Colorado. Use the Loop for everything else on the ground.

            Later, possibly, we could use a system of tunnels to get under oceans and mountains. But we can work our way toward an all electric system, there’s no way to implement a total system of anything overnight.

          • Bob_Wallace

            ” there is approx 60 years oil left (maybe a bit more),”

            I’m convinced (at the 95% level) that we will moving seriously to EVs in 10 years or less. That would greatly extend our oil supply (if it is only 60 years).

            What we are not talking about yet (in the US) is electrifying rail. That’s something that could be done fairly rapidly (10 years for the major routes, I’d guess).

            We’re going to free up a lot of rail space as we phase out coal and oil. We may see rail companies going after the 18-wheeler freight business.

            We’re probably able to convert 18-wheelers to battery now with either battery swapping or rapid charging.

            Since vehicles wear out so quickly and shipping is so cost sensitive I think we’ll see a rapid move to electricity.

    • Although it’s been coming for a long time, the effectiveness of telepresence may improve to a point at which it can make a real dent in business travel. As affordable very large screen TV’s and much faster internet connections roll out over the next five years, it should be possible to have a discussion with remote people as if they were in the same room. An order-of-magnitude quantitative change implies a qualitative change.

      • Richard Foster

        Maybe. But only maybe. It will require a new way of thinking that might require a generation or more to shuffle on first…

        Think of all the businessmen who swear blind that doing a deal in person is the only way to make sure of getting it done.

        Teleconferencing has been around for ages, yet even academics won’t use it. Businesses won’t use it, despite the savings being obvious..

        My feeling is that the world has moved too far in favour of increased mobility. I’m not sure that unless a viable alternative (hyperloop or maybe very high-speed rail) is in place, society will not accept a reduction in mobility or significantly increased journey times, nor the perceived (and it is only perceived) increase in inconvenience.

  • Jason Willhite

    I’m just guesstimating here, but I’m thinking that a 3 gigawatt solar system would generate something upwards of like 4 to 5 TWh of electricity a year…

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