The Delegation of German Industry and Commerce (AHK) recently unveiled a refurbished solar power plant at the SOS Children’s Village in Mombasa.
The facility was originally constructed in 2011 to serve as a lighthouse project to showcase the capabilities of German technology for solar energy – aimed at efficiently managing SOS Children’s Village energy needs and to help the children’s home save money that can be spent on its core mission: supporting children who lack parental care.
“The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is keen on supporting Kenya achieve its target of shifting its energy supply green by 2020. This solar plant not only showcases what German technology has to offer, it will go a long way in providing much needed electricity to SOS Children’s Village Mombasa,” said AHK head of competence center energy and environment Thilo Vogeler.
When the plant was first installed, technology was not yet designed to withstand the ravages of the humidity and salinity in the Mombasa air. Also, the negotiations with the public grid operator didn’t go as planned which resulted in the solar power plant producing electricity below its potential.
Renowned Kenyan solar company Knights Energy was brought on board to carry out the repairs on site.
“We are delighted that AHK identified SOS Children Village Mombasa as a viable partner for the establishment of this project. Its upgrade will help the home meet its increasing energy needs and cut down our costs. We also thank the German government for their support to make this happen,” said SOS Children’s Villages Kenya national director Walter Odhiambo.
Back on track
The repairs on the refurbished plant began in November 2018. Over the years, some solar panels were broken or cracked requiring replacement. Some of the electronic equipment also needed repair. Originally, the plant was wired to work through the local supply power grid, however it is now fully self-contained. This means all the electricity produced will be consumed on site by the children and their guardians.
The recommissioned plant is also fitted with the latest technology built to withstand coastal conditions for longer periods thereby requiring minimal maintenance. This solar power plant will allow the SOS Children’s Village to save an estimated 1.5 million Kenya Shillings per year on electricity costs. The money thereby saved will be used to better cater for the children living on the compound and directly benefit the home. The refurbishing was made possible through special funding in the framework scope of the ”German Energy Solutions Initiative” of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy.
Renewable energy saves money
Over the last few years, the costs for solar equipment have significantly lowered. Despite this trend having come to an end, the current pricing allows to competitively produce electricity by utilizing idle space like rooftops. More and more Kenyan consumers shift to solar to diversify their energy supply. By incorporating solar energy, the consumption from the public grid can be reduced significantly. In off-grid areas, solar energy can be used to replace polluting diesel generators or to bring light to communities that have never had access to electricity before. Especially at the Kenyan coast, where a big percentage of the electricity is derived from fossil power plants, the ecologic benefits are significant as well. In the near future, solar energy will also gain pace for charging electric vehicles – marking another big step on Kenya’s pathway to Green Economy.