A Kenyan renewable firm, SteamaCo has been shortlisted in United Kingdom (UK) sustainable energy award for coming up with an alternative energy solution in rural Kenya. SteamaCo has installed solar microgid in Entasopia, Kajiado County to provide reliable power to residents. The company operates 23 power and water microgrids in East Africa and Nepal. It has also installed high-capacity solar panels at power hubs where energy is stored in high-voltage batteries.
SteamaCo uses mobile phone services to connect customers’ phone numbers to their local power hub to enable them prepay for their electricity using the M-Pesa platform. Once payment is made, power is available and the only thing one needs to do is flip the switch and enjoy electricity.
Each hub can harvest up to 5.6 kilowatts of power, enough to supply electricity nearly 100 households and businesses depending on their usage and distance from the hub. The hubs use underground cables to supply electricity to homes and businesses. SteamaCo charges residents KES 1,000 as connection fees which is cheaper compared to what they would pay to Kenya Power.
In addition, the company’s web-based system is automated and customers only buy power while in need. As a result, site agents designated at each power hubs respond to issues such as power blackouts or delays in loading units raised by customers instantly.
With each solar microgrids system costing between KES 1,395,000($15,000) and KES1, 860, 000 ($20,000), including distribution, SteamaCo intends to raise at least KES93m ($1m) from equity funds to bring a new burst of life to other communities across East Africa.
Currently, the company is serving about 700 customers with its hubs producing a total of 61 kilowatts.