Solar technologies has been around since the 1950’s but it was only until recently did people take to Solar power and really go full blown into it. More Kenyans now are turning to solar power every year rather than make connections to the country’s electric grid
Kenyans are increasingly being frustrated by the Kenya Power and Lighting Company- the national power supplier transmitting electricity to millions of Kenyans. A number of people are reporting cases of their bills being infiltrated and sent the wrong bill, power rationing has never been on the high with power outages a regular feature nowadays, high cost of buying power from Kenya power and the initial cost of connecting your house from the national grid. All this factors have played a part in swaying Kenyans to shift to Solar power.
One particular Kenyan, a farmer in Nandi who goes by the name Arap Sambu, didn’t need a second invitation when solar power was recommended to him by a friend. He was increasing getting agitated by what he believed was conmanship by the Kenya Power and Lighting Company. every month, a huge bill came his way yet he didn’t use much power both on his farm and home. He was using electricity to pump water from the river to his farm and that was all. He only pumped water twice a month as he had two massive 10,000L tanks. He just couldn’t wrap his head around the huge bill and surprisingly it increased every month that passed by. He had seen enough and called it quits in April.
“I have now dug a 150 feet well, installed a solar-powered pump and bought 17 solar panel to power it.” said Arap Sambu. He continued… “The initial set up cost was high but the return on investments will be high unlike utility bills.”
Kenyans have weighed the pros and cons of solar energy comparing it to electricity and solar energy has a lot of benefits with next to no person to infiltrate any bills. In 2012, there was the enactment of the Energy (Solar Photovoltaic Systems) regulation by the Energy Regulatory Commission. These regulations came about to protect consumers to ensure that low quality solar products as well poorly trained or unqualified technicians do not infiltrate the market. So whatever solar products you are buying in the market are of good quality and well regulated.
Solar energy has a number of benefits. First, solar power is pollution-free and causes no greenhouse gases emission. Its renewable clean power is available every day of the year even on cloudy days. Virtually no maintenance required. Safer than traditional electric current, stores extra power that can be used to power other things not of great importance at the time.
The private sector has been at the fore front of promoting solar energy through sale of products that best fit the purchasing power and making products pocket friendly to potential or existing customers. The sector has also had hands in a number of innovative products. One such is the M-KOPA project that make solar power products affordable to low income households through a pay-per-use instalment plan. This project has enabled more and more Kenyans embrace solar energy.
With key input from the government and private sector, solar energy is indeed the next frontier in Kenya’s renewable energy sector.