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Chinese firms to build solar power plant in Garissa

Monday, October 1, 2012 - 00:00 -- BY JAMES WAITHAKA
Kengen MD Njoroge
KenGen MD Eddie Njoroge by file

Two Chinese firms are set to put up a 50 megawatts solar power plant in Garissa, North Eastern Province, to be connected to the national grid. New York Stock Exchange listed JinkoSolar Holdings announced that it has signed a “co-operative agreement” with China Jiangxi Corporation for International Economic and Technical Co. to provide it with technical support. The firm will also supply modules for the project.

JinkoSolar said the project will sit on a 81Ha site, making it one of the largest grid-connected solar power plant in Africa. It will produce about 76,473 MWh annually. “With an arid climate and a vast desert landmass, Garissa is geographically optimal for harnessing solar power,” the firm said.

Details are however not clear yet as to who has contracted the firms for the project and when, as well as the time frame. The announcement comes just as KenGen, which supplies over 70 per cent of national grid power, said it has conducted feasibility studies in Garissa, Isiolo, Lamu and Magadi for solar power projects.

KenGen’s managing director Eddy Njoroge said the firm may build a 10MW solar power plant either in Lamu or Magadi. Kenya is increasingly seeking alternative power sources in geothermal and solar to supplement unreliable hydropower and costly diesel-generated thermal power often turned to during shortages.

A solar atlas prepared under the Solar and Wind Energy Resource Assessment project in 2008 established that Kenya receives an estimated 4-6KWh per square metre per day of solar energy, all year round.