A 13.5B power plant to start supplying energy in the next two weeks

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The Garissa solar plant is set to start supplying the national electricity grid in the next two weeks. The project, which is headed by the Rural Electrification Authority, will be the second major power generating plant to start feeding the grid in the course of this month after the Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP) plant that began last week.

The two plants are expected to add 365MW to the grid, bringing the country’s total installed power capacity to 2,716MW, up from 2,351MW.

Regional ranking The Garissa plant is designed to generate 55 megawatts. It has been hyped as the largest solar plant in the region. “The commissioning of the project is set for September 24, 2018,” said REA yesterday. The plant has been built at a cost of Sh13.5 billion advanced to REA by the EXIM Bank of China and put up by China Jiangxi Corporation for International Economic & Technical Cooperation (CJIC).

The Authority added that it was building a sub-station and power transmission lines that would move electricity from the plant to the grid. REA has experienced difficulties in acquisition of land to put up the power line, but said it had reached an agreement with the community, enabling construction to continue as negotiations for land progress.

“Foundation works (for the substation) are ongoing. We estimate that the entire work will be completed in approximately two weeks. The construction of all the pylons is complete and stringing is ongoing and halfway complete,” said REA.

“Land in Raya Location, like many other areas within Garissa County, is owned communally. In order for REA to compensate the community, a legal ownership status and documents have to be put in place. “It was therefore agreed between the local community, leaders and REA that the project continues, as legal ownership documents and compensation mechanisms are worked out.” Power from the plant will be priced at Sh5 per kilowatt hour (KWh).

It may, however, not significantly affect the pricing of electricity, considering the output. Its pricing is in comparison to other planned solar power plants at Sh12 per unit. It is also in comparison to power from geothermal plants, which is priced at Sh7, and hydroelectricity, at Sh3 per unit. Feed-in-tariff The Energy Regulatory Commission has in the recent past said it will not license solar plants charging more than Sh7 per unit of electricity. The pricing of solar and wind power is contained in the feed-in-tariff, which is undergoing review and is expected to be replaced by an auction system, where power producers will competitively bid to build plants and the lowest bid given the go-ahead.