Published on January 7th, 2016 | by Guest Contributor


Microgrids For 100 Kenyan Villages

January 7th, 2016 by  

Originally published on Sustainnovate.
By Henry Lindon

Enel Green Power Partnering With Powerhive To Bring Electrification To Rural Kenya

Enel Green Power, a 2015 Zayed Future Energy finalist, and the mini-grid technology provider Powerhive are partnering together to develop and operate solar-powered mini-grids in rural Kenya, according to recent reports.

The $12 million project will involve work in 100 different villages in Kenya — with 93% of the financing for the project coming via Enel Green Power, and 7% via Powerhive.

The Italian company noted that the project represents “a concrete effort in the off-grid business by integrating investment, sustainability, and innovation.”

Many of the new solar microgrids will be constructed in the western counties of Kisii and Nyamira — with total capacity in this region totaling around 1 megawatt (MW). The grids will reportedly give reliable access to grid electricity to up to 90,000 people in the region.

The CEO of Enel Green Power, Francesco Venturini, commented: “This country couples a low electrification rate, still in the range of 30%, with one of the highest mobile phone penetration rates of the region, thus making this union ideal to implement innovative solutions able to integrate the electrification of rural areas with generation from renewables, storage facilities as well as advanced billing systems.”

Image by William Warby (some rights reserved)

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  • Larry


  • Abdulkareem Adam

    I really like the way the conversation is going and would love to hear more and see more about these mini-grids as I want to do the same in certain other African countries

  • Dan


    Lake Turkana offshore wind farm is on the way too. Thanks for reporting on these empowering climate change defeating developments 🙂

  • lkruijsw

    I like to know if the people in the villages will also start to cook on electricity. To do this with only your own battery, you need a battery that can deliver a lot of power (in addition to storage). With a (mini)-grid this is easier (cheaper) to achieve, because you don’t need the power for all at the same time.

    Nano-grid solution don’t offer this. Still, cooking is a big problem, leading to deforestation.

    • Matt

      Doesn’t say but this sound more like phone charging and lights. But lights are a big deal. I think stoves are still the area of the better burner setups that we see here every so often. And electric stove takes a lot of watts.
      Order of electrification is phone, lights, water pumps, small refrigeration (clinic meds then food) … When you are starting at no electric, then stoves are not the first item.

      • lkruijsw

        Electric stove takes a lot of watts, but the amount of kWh is still reasonable. You can do a lot of cooking on 1 kWh. If the price is 0.25 dollar for a kWh this is still competitive compared to buying or searching for wood.

        The advantage of a grid is especially in the Watts and not the kWh.

        • Frank

          Get a well insulated pressure cooker, instead of an open uninsulated pot where the heat is spewing everywhere. Maybe induction cooktop for quick little things.

      • JamesWimberley

        TV. Modern ones are quite economical. The satellite dish can be home-made, all you really have to buy in is the LNB and coax cable. Who gets priority: women for cooking, or men for soccer?

      • neroden

        There are direct solar-heating cookers for certain types of cooking.

        But honestly lights are the most important. Followed by *water pumps*, which save a spectacular amount of work hauling water.

    • Calamity_Jean

      There’s a lot of non-electric cooking solutions that reduce deforestation. In tropical areas where sunlight is close to vertical, a pretty good solar oven can be made from a square sheet of plywood, a slightly smaller sheet of glass, and a truck inner tube. Lay the plywood on a flat surface, blow up the inner tube and lay it on the plywood, put the cooking pot in the middle, and cover it with the glass. There’s also different designs of small one-pot stoves that use just a few sticks to cook, stretching the wood supply. For non-nomadic people, a methane digester can permit cooking with gas.

    • Global Citizen

      As per my knowledge Africa is so hot that if you put food outside it can become charcoal grilled in no time. Jokes apart.

      Right now, the basic necessity is light and power for mobiles. For cooking they can anyways be supplied with Solar cookers or fast growing firewood with energy efficient stoves.

  • JamesWimberley

    The takeaway here is that there is no perceptible innovation. Offgrid solar in Africa runs on a proven business model: standard and reliable kit for both microgrids and single-hut rooftop installations, upfront financing, and PAYGO payments using mobile phone payments systems.The payment is also enforced by remote disconnection, also through the mobile phone system. The scheme is scaleable as far as you like.

    I would like to hear that regulators are protecting poor African consumers from possible exploitation by these not entirely benevolent entrepreneurs: they are captive customers with low information. At least the Central Bank of Kenya is bringing pressure on the telcos to make their payments systems inter-operable, which will open up the payments side to competition.

  • Martin

    Thanks for sharing!

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