Kenya’s first hybrid solar-hydro plant which is expected to go fully live by the end of the year has been launched.
The PV magazine, an international publication which covers solar and storage media reported that the Ksh96.7 million plant, based in Baricha, Kirinyaga County, consists of a 150 kW solar array, a 50 kW crossflow turbine and a 240 KWh storage facility.
The plant covers an area of 1,200 square meters and uses the natural flow of water with the crossflow turbine producing 50 kW of hydropower.
Jointly commissioned by Hydrobox, a Belgian-based hydropower company, and Solar Now, a Kenyan solar company, the plant aims to expand its capacity from 150 kW to 350 kW next year, to produce clean and sustainable energy.
Despite the plant’s small size, it is expected that the project will connect 150 households, 8 schools,2 medical facilities and 10 businesses to power.
Photo showing aerial view of Kirinyaga town
Ministry of Youth Affairs
In an interview with PV Magazine, Hydrobox Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Rik Vereecken highlighted that the plant will primarily rely on solar capture and storage for energy. Hydropower will serve as a secondary source, providing energy when there is a deficit in the load.
He emphasised that integrating solar capture and storage will result in a stable and consistent power generation system.
“I think it is a very entrepreneurial and rewarding segment and in our opinion, with a very high impact potential,” Vereecken told PV Magazine.
“A 50 kilowatts(KW) cross-flow turbine, Victron Quattro inverters and chargers, Fronius Inverters, a 240 kilowatts storage facility, and a 90 KVA backup generator comprise the hydro part of the project,” he added.
According to data shared by the Kenya Projects Organization [KENPRO], an agency domiciled in the Ministry of Gender, Kenya accounts for only 1% of Africa’s total solar energy capacity.
However, the agency estimates that the country’s solar capacity grew from 3MW in 2012 to 169.2 MW by the end of 2022.
“Solar market and growth in Kenya, and generally in Africa appears to be quite promising with an ever increasing global call for sustainable and affordable sources of power,” the agency states in its website.
Photo of Solar Panels in a roof