Plans are underway in Kenya to kick off the construction of what would be, upon completion, the largest solar project in East Africa. The Garissa Solar project is being constructed in northern Kenya.
Mr Gicharu told the media that the 55MW project, which will cost approximately US$116 million to develop, will stand as the largest solar plant ever developed in East and Central Africa.
He said that the bottleneck problems that have been halting the project have now been solved, and that work on the facility will be completed within the next 12 months.
“All the bottlenecks to the Garissa solar plant, the biggest in East and Central Africa, are over and next week, we are set to approve the designs and it will take one year to complete,” Gicharu said.
The Garissa solar project will produce energy for the national grid. The solar project will sit on approximately 85 hectares of land and will be comprised of 200,000 solar panels. he solar project is expected to generate enough energy to light up 625,000 homes in Kenya.
The plant is also expected to cut Kenya’s carbon emissions by an estimated 43,000 tonnes per year for trading in the global carbon market.
Energy and Petroleum Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter and the Vice Governor of Jianxi Province of China signed a MoU for the construction of a new transmission line to connect the plant to the national grid in October 2016. At the time the Kenyan government said that construction on the plant was scheduled to start by the end of last year.
Kenya’s total power capacity stands at 2,333 megawatts, with solar power accounting for less than one per cent. The country relies on a mix of hydropower priced at Sh3 per unit, geothermal (Sh7) while thermal tops Sh20 per unit.