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A Glimpse of the Rural Electrification Program in Kenya

Electricity is the backbone of socio-economic development of any country and is associated with provision of numerous services to people which directly enhances their quality of life. However, in today's world this situation becomes bit complex as not only continuous supply of electricity is important but it is equally essential to generate it in a green fashion. Kenya has, keeping these needs in mind, established Rural Electrification Authority (REA) under section 66 of Energy Act 2006 (No. 12 of 2006) with a vision to provide clean and green electricity to all rural areas in the country.

The total installed electricity generation capacity of Kenya at the moment is 1243 Mega Watts (MW) out of which 761 MW (65%) is generated through hydro power plants. Thermal electricity generation sources contribute 419.6 MW (30%), geothermal makes 163 MW (12%) and sugar factories contributes 26MW (1.9%) respectively. Since, Kenya is located across the equator; therefore, it has huge potential for utilizing solar energy as a source of electricity generation. Two main methods that are adopted in rural electrification program in Kenya are grid extensions (for integrated areas) and stand alone diesel operated / solar photovoltaic systems for areas located far from national grids. The master plan for the project was completed in 2009 in which 20,000 public installations were identified which were in need of electrification. Till now, 12,000 installations have been supplied with electricity. The details of the project are here.

The identified potential of various renewable energy resources are geothermal 7000 MW whereas the current installed capacity is only 163 MW. Similarly, over 80% of the total land area in Kenya can be utilized for electricity generation through photovoltaic solar panels. Almost 200,000 households in Kenya are currently seeking benefits from 12 – 20 watts of PV solar panels. The figure is increasing with an addition of 20,000 households per annum. By the end of june 2009, almost 189 institutions were supplied with electricity through 12 – 20 watts solar panels. Wind potential is estimated to be 346 Watts per meter square, small hydro potential is 3,000 MW and biomass collectively from different sources is 600 MW respectively.

The Government of Kenya is the basic supporter of this initiative. REA is currently focusing on developing framework for the promotion of photovoltaic solar panels among rural households and private sector and is open to have collaboration in this regard with foreign investors. This project is a practical example for the promotion of renewable energy sources at grass root level and the changes that it can bring into the lives of masses. However, the project still primarily relies on fund from government and foreign investors. There is a dire need to increase the market value of this project so that it would be able to generate revenue to sustain and grow further in years to come.

By guest blogger Ayoub Hameedi

Cleantech Group and Facebook Social Media Challenge

A new opportunity to gain attention for cleantech solutions -

The Cleantech Goes Social Contest aims to support the development of Facebook applications and new uses of Facebook’s billion-person network to encourage adoption of clean technologies, help individuals and companies reduce their environmental impact, and engage the public in further dialogue surrounding key sustainability challenges.

The winner of the contest will receive $25,000 in funding and personalized guidance from Cleantech Group and Facebook on how to maximize the impact of their idea.

Deadline for submissions March 4, 2013. Read more

 

The Seriousness of Failed Cleantech Commercialisation

Business Green blog “Can anyone defuse the carbon bomb?”  is important whilst scary reading referring to the new report Point of No Return study from Greenpeace and Ecofys, which argues that 14 giant "carbon bomb" fossil fuel projects that are currently in planning have the potential to drive up global emissions 20 per cent by 2020 on their own.

The five points brought up by James Murray are very important and valid points where point 5) The rewards for those who defuse the "carbon bomb" will be massive echos the existence of WWF Climate Solvers. Because we believe and even know that some solutions, entrepreneurs and companies must grow very, very fast for us to have a chance to combat climate change. This is why we must focus on enabling this rapid commercialisation, at early as well as later stages of cleantech business development.

What is also worrying in this context though is that the lack of ambition on climate change is starting to take it's toll also on the cleantech industry where several players that could reap massive rewards are being forced to cave in due to lack of policy and investor confidence. The public private partnership machinery to support solutions is failing to deliver at scale. Policy makers and investors must engage in a dialogue with those who have alternative and transformative solutions across sectors, and not stay stuck in a sector-by-sector I-will-change-as-little-and-slow-as-I-can-dialogue with incumbent industry sectors. Policy makers say business-as-usual (BAU) is not an option, yet what we see is BAU. And investors keep betting our pension funds on good old coal, oil and gas since they expect to get high returns on investments from the BAU way of thinking.   

Global clean energy investments actually fell 11% last year according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. This happens at a time when we know it must at least triple or quadruple very quickly if we are to have a chance to combat global warming. At least if we should listen to the World Economic Forum Green Investment Report.

Some real suffering examples of the failure of cleantech commercialisation:

Hailed A123 systems advanced batteries and complete energy storage for ex for electrified vehicles have gone bankrupt as sufficient market demand has not appeared.

The winner of last year's Intersolar award and an earlier Climate Solver,  has now gone bankrupt. The technology combines solar power generation with the use of solar heat. It is the first concentrating PVT collector where priority is given to generating heat as well as electricity. The intersolar jury believed that the solution’s technical construction generated significantly higher yields than any previous systems. Now they are bankrupt. Liquidity issues made it impossible for the award winning company to pay a supplier, and there was no investor to jump in and save the day.

Unfortunately there are several more examples, and many more to come unless policy makers and investors wake up.

If we do not join forces to support our Climate Solvers so that they can grow rather than shrink, what chance do we have ? We must step up our ambition in order to reap the rewards of those who diffuse the "carbon bomb" which could be massive. And policy makers must understand that a top priority for supporting solution providers is to increase ambition on climate change. This creates markets as well as strong industrial policy support for the new strategic industries that are necessary to create a green economy.

Stefan Henningsson

Senior Adviser Climate Innovation

WWF

Funding Opportunity - Powering Agricultural Energy Grand Challenge

“The Powering Agricultural Energy Grand Challenge seeks proposals for clean energy technologies projects.

The Challenge is in search of market-driven solutions that can expand farmers’ and farm –related businesses’ access to clean energy solutions for improving irrigation, value-added processing, cold storage, or other on-farm applications. This will enhance the incomes and economic opportunities of the networks of small holder farmers and associated businesses along the agriculture value chain, and help build profitable clean energy companies.

The Grand Challenge Website (http://poweringag.org/) gives more information on this program. All proposals for funding must be submitted through the program’s Online Application Platform. This Platform will be accessible from January 15, 2013 – February 6, 2013.  The application link is http://poweringag.org/apply. “

 

Dis-ownership - Innovative Business Model for Solar Service

Dis-ownership is an urban trend that seems to be gaining traction in the US beyond the early-adaptor hipsters. Sunrun is riding this wave and has developed an innovative business model that allows homeowners to go solar without the prohibitive upfront costs.

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