East and Central Africas’ largest solar power plant is taking shape and will soon be feeding 54.64 Mega Watts (MW) of electricity into the national grid. This is the first time that Kenya has developed a major solar power plant to harness its abundant solar energy resource to diversify the power generation mix and reduce energy costs.
The project which occupies a total of 200 acres is located in Barki Village, Raya Location in Garissa County 15 Kilometers away from Garissa Town. The project is funded by the People’s Republic of China at a cost of KsH 13 Billion and is being implemented through a consortium of 3 Chinese engineering companies who are undertaking civil, mechanical and electrical works.
Energy Cabinet Secretary, Hon. Charles Keter accompanied by Majority Leader in parliament Hon. Adan Duale and REA Chairman Prof. Simon Gicharu during a recent visit of the 55MW Garissa solar Power Project.
On completion, all the generated power will be sold to Kenya Power through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) signed under the Feed-in-Tariff policy.The plant will consist of 210,000 solar photovoltaic panels set on an 85 hectare piece of land. To support the project, a 6 Kilometre132 Kilo Vault (KV) transmission line with 16 pylons (towers) is under construction between the REA solar power plant and the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (KETRACO) substation in Garissa. The power plant is expected to be commissioned this year.
The completion of this project is expected to further open up Garissa County which is the economic hub of the north eastern region by enhancing economic development by boosting business and other economic activities such as tourism. The local community in Raya is already benefitting through employment
The local community is also benefiting through REA Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities of the project which include drilling of a borehole with storage tank and piping, construction and equipping of a dispensary, construction and equipping of a primary school, construction of a 3km access road to the community farm, refurbishment of the local police post and face lifting chief’s camp to enhance security in the area.
Implementation of the 50MW Garissa project is in line with REA’s strategic objectives to develop and promote renewable energy sources and also to enhance electricity access by the Year 2020. REA is also implementing 25 solar power mini-grid projects to electrify off- grid centres in Mandera, Garissa, Wajir, Marsabit and Turkana.