German group to train local energy engineers on solar power

By: IMMACULATE KARAMBU

The Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Kenya (AHK) will next week hold a four-day training workshop to equip local energy technicians and financing institutions with skills on using solar power systems.

The participants will learn how to respond to the increasing demand for both on-grid and off-grid solar use.

The event comes at a time when local commercial and industrial enterprises are investing more in reliable and affordable energy to cater for their electricity needs.

“The second German solar training week will bring together German companies with the Kenyan private sector, government officials and academia,’ said Jasmin Fraatz, programme manager for the GIZ Renewable Energy Development Programme that will undertake the training.

Solar power currently accounts for less than one per cent of the country’s energy mix, though it’s a relatively cheap source of power.

Last month, Kenya Power signed a 20-year power-purchase agreement with Strathmore University that saw the injection of 0.25 megawatts of solar electricity, the first solar capacity, to the national grid.

In 2013, the Energy Regulatory Commission gazetted regulations requiring all institutions that consume more than 100 litres of hot water per day to install solar water-heating equipment.

The regulator also required all developers to fit new buildings with solar heating systems as part of their essentials, thereby pushing up demand for solar equipment, and consequently cutting power consumption.

According to Energy Principal Secretary Joseph Njoroge, the government is keen to develop solar power as a source of electricity to replace the use of fuel to operate thermal generators.

“We have always preferred to use the least-cost sources of electricity. However, the uptake of solar locally has been slowed by research to reduce the rates at which it is fed to the national grid. “Recently, we have received many proposals for solar power projects and are keen on pursuing the form of energy,” said Mr Njoroge.

The current feed-in tariffs for solar electricity stand at $0.12, having dropped from an average of $0.15 that discouraged the government from entering into generation contracts with private investors.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION