ENERGY

Solar rules are geared towards a safer, sustainable sector

The proposed 2020 regulations will foster the gains realised under the 2012 Regulations.

In Summary

• The 2020 regulations encompass various classes of licenses suitable for Solar PV workers with varying qualifications. 

•  The regulations provide a robust framework for enforcement of quality standards of solar PV equipment getting into the Kenyan market thus ensuring the Kenyan consumer is protected.

Solar energy
Solar energy
Image: OZONE

In 2019, an NGO based in Turkana filed a complaint with the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority for a failed installation of a Sh6 million solar system.

Poor workmanship by the solar technician was cited as the cause for the faulty installation. Unfortunately, the solar technician could not remedy the situation and the NGO suffered loss.

Last December, EPRA received another complaint of a dysfunctional solar equipment that was precariously installed. The seller refused to refund the buyer after getting back the faulty system and failed to provide KRA i-Tax receipts and a warranty.

These are just but a few complaints received that highlight gaps in the solar energy operating space that EPRA seeks to address through the proposed 2020 Solar PV regulations.

Kenya’s solar PV industry is regulated through the Energy (Solar Photovoltaic Systems) Regulations, 2012. In March 2019, EPRA in collaboration with sector stakeholders embarked on a review of the current regulations to address gaps identified during implementation and align them with the Energy Act, 2019. Accordingly, the Authority commissioned a Regulatory Impact Assessment Study to identify the impact of the 2012 Regulations on Kenya’s Solar PV industry.

The study showed the installed capacity of solar PV has grown to over 200MW in 2020 from 12MW in 2012. The 2012 regulations provided a framework for the creation of a pool of more than eight hundred (800) licensed solar technicians and over one thousand (1000) registered solar companies. Solar training centres that use a curriculum approved by National Industrial Training Centre           have been established to build capacity in the solar PV industry. This growth is associated with the growing confidence in the performance of solar PV systems.

The proposed 2020 regulations will foster the gains realised under the 2012 Regulations. The regulations provide a robust framework for enforcement of quality standards of solar PV equipment getting into the Kenyan market thus ensuring the Kenyan consumer is protected.

The 2020 regulations encompass various classes of licenses suitable for Solar PV workers with varying qualifications. Solar PV workers with a KCPE qualification and basic Solar PV training from an accredited institution will be licensed to install and maintain solar systems of not more than 400W. The experience required to get a license for this category is successful installation of at least three systems of not less than 100W.

Solar PV workers with a KCSE qualification and a certificate in Electrical and Electronics and Intermediate Solar PV Training from an accredited institution will be licensed to install and maintain solar systems of not more than 3kW.

The applicant must have been directly involved in design documentation of at least three installed solar PV systems each of at least 1kW to acquire a license.

On the other hand, Solar PV workers with a diploma in electrical engineering or related disciplines and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering will be licensed to install and maintain more advanced solar systems.

The license application and renewable fees for solar PV workers range from Sh1,200 to Sh6,000. The proposed applicable fees are based on the proposed license validity period of three years from the current one year. This is aimed at enhancing efficiency in the license processing and issuance process. The license application and renewable fees for Solar PV manufacturers, importers, vendors, and contractors range from Sh3,000 to Sh11,500.

The solar market in Kenya is among the largest and most dynamic among developing countries with a constant per capita growth of over 10% per year over the past decade. These regulations will not only promote fair business practices but help entrench quality thresholds that guarantee safety and constructive contribution to the economy.

The writers are renewable energy experts at the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority

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