Renewvia Launches Three Solar Minigrids in Kenya

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A Renewvia Energy subsidiary has started operating three solar minigrids in Kenya as part of a program to bring minigrids to the East African nation.

Renewvia Energy Kenya and Energising Development, an energy access partnership financed by six European countries, launched minigrids in the Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement, the nearby town of Kalobeyei and the village of Ngurunit, according to Renewvia.

The minigrids are 60 kW, 20 kW and 27.6 kW, respectively, according to the Atlanta-based company. Before the minigrids were set up, the UN refugee settlement, the town and village had only limited access to electricity from expensive and unreliable sources like solar home systems and small diesel generators, according to Renewvia.

Plans are underway to expand the minigrid in the Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement, which mainly serves people from South Sudan.

minigrid

Solar panels installed by Renewvia in Ngurunit, Kenya. Photo courtesy of Renewvia

In support of the minigrid projects, the UK Department for International Development contributed $630,000 to the MiniGrids Results Based Financing project, which offers incentives to support private investment in minigrids in rural Kenya. In an effort to create a minigrid market in Kenya, the program, implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, a German aid agency, offers performance-based financial incentives to private firms to develop and manage the projects in remote areas.

Kenya sees minigrids as a key part of its goal of bringing electricity to all of its citizens by 2022, said Anna Ingwe, country manager for Energising Development Kenya.

Renewvia has developed utility-scale and commercial solar projects in the United States, but the company is expanding in Africa, where it has offices in Kenya and Nigeria.

Renewvia recently partnered with Dream Projects Incubators, a renewable energy company based in Singapore, to develop solar microgrids in Kenya and Nigeria. 

The companies formed a special purpose entity to capitalize large portfolios of solar microgrid projects in sub-Saharan Africa with a goal of developing thousands of microgrids, according to Kline. The first 10 projects are partly capitalized with the French Development Bank and The World Bank, Kline said.

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