SkyPower to sign pact with Kenya to develop 1-GW solar power

Canadian solar company SkyPower Global is to sign an agreement with the energy ministry of Kenya to develop 1-gigawatt of solar power in that country.

The project will be developed over five years and is expected to require $2.2 billion to complete.

According to the CEO of SkyPower Kerry Adler, the outlines of the agreement are yet to be worked out. He, however, added that there was overwhelming interest from investors, NGOs and development banks in the project.

Africa has been receiving attention of renewable power developers across the globe in recent times. The announcement by SkyPower is the latest big announcement of the lot.

The continent still has large tracts that are not connected to the power grid or receive inadequate and unreliable supply of power. However, it has huge potential for renewable energy generation owing to its geography.

At present, Kenya harnesses about two-thirds of its electricity requirements from renewable sources.

Chief among the sources are hydropower and geothermal wells which account for 38 percent and 25 percent of supplies respectively, Bloomberg News Energy Finance data suggests.

Kenya recently unveiled a $900 million, 310-megawatt wind farm in Lake Turkana, and received a $109 million loan from German development bank KfW which Geothermal Development Company will be using to drill 20 wells at the Bogoria-Silali site.

The country also has abundant scope for solar project development but the potential hasn’t been tapped.

With renewable energy developments spreading across Africa, the continent is likely to play a major role in green energy. For instance, Sudan has wind resources adequate to power 90 percent of Africa’s electricity needs.

East Africa has sizeable geothermal energy potential, whereas conditions in North Africa, South Africa, and the Horn of Africa favour development of wind and solar energy.

In 2014, Africa attracted more than $8 billion in renewables investment. It was a record for the continent and bulk of the sum — $5.5 billion — was contributed by South Africa.

The biggest deal last year was the 100-megawatt Xina Solar One project under development by Abengoa Solar at $1 billion. It was the second-most cost intensive solar project at global level in 2014.

Last year, Algeria and Egypt, too, attracted investment of $428 million and $226 million respectively in 2014.

One factor that could offset all the advantages the continent holds, according to analysts, is politics.

The future of renewable energy development across Africa will depend largely on how the politics there supports the development.

Ajith Kumar S

[email protected]