Solarcentury has confirmed that solar has the potential to inject power to the national grid. Though no contract has been signed between the firm and Kenya Power, they keep insisting that solar is a commercially viable investment. The firm states that this will be a major turnaround in the renewable sector once a certain bill is passed.

Solarcentury has confirmed that solar has the potential to inject power to the national grid. Though no contract has been signed between the firm and Kenya Power, they keep insisting that solar is a commercially viable investment. The firm states that this will be a major turnaround in the renewable sector once a certain bill is passed.

This was announced during a solar carport tour organized by the firm at Garden City, Nairobi. Garden City officially opened its doors to the public in June 2015. The long awaited completion of the mixed-use development with beautiful and great ambience cost KES22.7bn is touted as East Africa’s largest mall after Two Rivers, Runda. The anchor tenant of the shopping complex is Massmart, a South African retailer through its subsidiary the Game, and Nakumatt Supermarkets. Other tenants include Tile & Carpet, Victoria Courts, and a range of cafés and restaurants.

Solar carport system

This system operates in parallel with the grid and or diesel power. With its installation it can help reduce the power consumed from the grid, and also reduce the amount of generator fuel. It is located on the uppermost storey of the car park at Mall in a bid to exploit on Kenya’s exceptional solar resource. As well as provide shaded parking for customers. Construction of the carport saves on cost as the system is connected to the grid. The solar carport is powerful enough to power 550 urban homes in Nairobi every year.

Solarcentury is the solar designer and contractor of the system with support from between solar advisory and finance platform, Solar Africa.

How it works
The system operates in parallel with the grid and or diesel power. With its installation it can help reduce the power consumed from the grid, and also reduce the amount of generator fuel consumed during power cuts. There is stable and consistent flow of electricity with a solar installation operating in parallel with a generator.

The solar panels are made up of solar PV cells. Once the sun’s radiation hit the cells, the light is converted into direct current (DC) energy. The DC energy travels to an electrical device called an inverter, which converts DC energy into alternating current (AC) energy. Then AC electricity produced is similar to the power supplied by a utility company, Kenya Power that directly power electronics as well as light homes. 

The roof top features 67 inverters and solar panels each supplying power to different sides of the shopping mall. The use of battery can also be added to save on excess power.

“We can’t inject power into the grid from Garden City as the kWh produced keeps varying. Through use of a battery, it can be possible to store and inject excess power to the grid. At the moment, Kenya has a standard feed in tariff policy of 12cents for 500kWh as required by the Ministry of Energy,” remarked Guy Lawrence, Director Solarcentury.

One of the biggest challenges encountered by the operators’ and installers of the solar carport is integrating different contractors unlike working with one team, insufficient skilled labour and inadequate financial resources.

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