Kenya’s First Commercial Scale “Pay as you Use” Solar Project Successfully Completes the Pilot Phase

Kenya’s First Commercial Scale “Pay as you Use” Solar Project Successfully Completes the Pilot Phase
  • NVI Energy, the founder of Solar4Africa, received some funding from the Global Climate Partnership Fund (GCPF) to pilot the concept of pay-as-you-use solar for commercial power.
  • Pilot project took place at Cheli and Peacock’s Tortilis Camp in Amboseli National Park, Kenya. The project is thought to be Kenya’s first third party financed and operated solar system operated on a “pay as you use” basis.
  • Tortilis Camp now receives power on a per unit basis at a rate no more than the cost of the generator-supplied power that the camp used to use.
  • The project’s close-out report, submitted to GCPF, concludes that solar can compete favorably both financially and operationally with fossil fuel power.

NVI Energy’s piloted “pay-as-you-use” solar project at Cheli and Peacock’s Tortilis Camp in Amboseli National Park, Kenya has now been in operation for more than six months. The camp is one of the few safari camps in East Africa to be running exclusively on solar power.

The 46.6 kWp solar system, designed to replace the 27,000 litres of diesel previously used by the camp to power two generators, will reduce carbon emissions by more than 72 tons per annum. Furthermore, the solar system provides power to the camp on a per unit basis at a rate never more than the cost of the generator-supplied power that the camp used to use. This cost includes the diesel, generator maintenance, and depreciation.

Through its Solar4Africa platform NVI Energy have provided Tortilis Camp with a turnkey, low-cost solar power package that includes design, installation, finance, insurance, operations, and maintenance. NVI Energy owns the solar system, while Harmonic Systems installed the system and provides maintenance services. Tortilis Camp just has to pay for the energy that they use. All of this at a rate no more than what it used to pay for generator-supplied power.

The system will provide the camp up to 77,400 kWh annually, storing energy produced during the day in an 11-ton Hoppecke battery bank, for use at night. The 190 solar panels cover an area of 440 m2 and have been carefully positioned to minimise visual impact while optimising yield.

The pilot was aided by a technical assistance grant from GCPF that helped to overcome some of the first time challenges and unknowns with developing a “pay as you use” off grid solar system in Kenya. The conclusion bodes well for financing commercial-scale renewable energy projects like this. It demonstrates that off-grid projects, with energy storage, are feasible and can attract private investment.

Stefano Cheli, Owner of Cheli & Peacock said:

“Since Liz and I first established Cheli & Peacock in 1985, sustainable tourism and genuine environmental responsibility have been at the heart of all we do. We seek to set the ‘green agenda’ in Kenya and are immensely proud that Tortilis Camp is now 100% solar. It is the first camp of a substantial size in Kenya – if not all of Africa – to operate 100% on solar power, 24 hours/day. For some time we’ve wanted to make the move to solar but the costs involved were prohibitive. Working with NVI Energy on this venture has not only made the switch financially viable but immensely satisfying, as we can now harness Amboseli’s wonderful sunshine to best effect.”

Monika Beck, Chairperson of the Board of Directors of GCPF said:

“Climate change remains an ever-pressing need. We are pleased that, through the Technical Assistance Facility of the GCPF, we were able to contribute to the success of this promising project. It perfectly fits into our overall objectives to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions in the world’s fastest-growing economies in a lasting, sustainable way. We look forward to further expanding our coverage and are dedicated to continue delivering on our objectives.”

James Irons, Managing Director of NVI Energy said:

“With a project like this behind us, we are closer to demonstrating the importance of a platform, like Solar4Africa, to pull together all of the ingredients needed for a solar project. We bring together interested power users, equipment, design and installation firms and capital. Through standardisation we are able to deliver first class solar systems that are affordable to the power user, profitable to the installer and financially viable for private sector funding.

We are extremely grateful for GCPFs support to date and look forward to working with them on the emerging pipeline that are benefitting from successes like this.”

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