Kenya's first large-scale solar park takes shape after receiving grant from Barack Obama

Green energy in Africa received a fresh ray hope after two Kenyan companies were awarded Sh164million to...

State-owned KenGen and Nairobi-based Xago Africa have received received a Sh164 million grant from former US President Barack Obama’s Power Africa to maximise generation of geothermal and solar electricity, known as green energy.

The US Trade and Development Agency, under the Power Africa initiative, on Thursday awarded $1.1 million (Sh113 million) to Xago Africa and another $500,000 (Sh51 million) to KenGen.

“Energy storage will boost take-up of solar power on a mass scale due to the elements of reliability and efficiency,” Power Africa country manager Joanna Hecht said during the signing ceremony in Nairobi.

Xago Africa now hopes to install Kenya’s first large-scale solar energy storage battery for the 40 megawatts solar power plant it plans to construct in Siaya to be connected to the national power grid.

The firm will get technical support from North Carolina-based battery storage manufacturer Alevo USA.

KenGen on the other hand will use the cash to deploy equipment in Olkaria power plants on a pilot basis to tap more electricity from geothermal wells.

“The equipment will enable us tap the total flow of geothermal energy since it uses both steam and the liquid from wells,” KenGen managing director Albert Mugo told a local daily.

The back-up batteries are meant to act as a power backup to the national grid by offering a reliable electricity even in the absence of sunlight.

Developers of the Siaya solar are currently procuring equipment for the construction of the 40MW plant set to begin next year. The whole process will take six months to complete.

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