Clean power projects to benefit from America aid

Sunday August 13 2017

The usage of solar energy is vital in taming climate change and its devastating effects. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The usage of solar energy is vital in taming climate change and its devastating effects. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

By DAVID HERBLING
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The American government is scouting for renewable energy projects in Kenya and across Africa that it can invest in, signalling President Donald Trump is keen to hold onto a legacy programme started by his predecessor Barack Obama.

Under the Power Africa programme, Washington is targeting to bankroll green energy projects such as geothermal, solar, wind, and biomass, which are cheaper sources to light up homes and power enterprises in Africa.

Projects have up to September 25 to apply to receive support in the form of equity financing, grants, technical assistance, and investment promotion to partner with American firms in the energy sector, such as General Electric.

The US Trade and Development Agency is the body implementing Power Africa and the US Africa Clean Energy Finance programmes; which seek to increase access to electricity and support private sector investments.

“USTDA’s investments under these programmes provide critical early-stage support to advance new power generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure,” the agency said in a statement.

“Projects are assessed for viability, including proven technologies, as well as their social and environmental impact.”

Kenya is already one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Obama $9.7 billion plan to fund projects meant to double electricity access in the world’s poorest continent and stimulate economic growth.

Power Africa currently has various projects in Kenya that, when complete, will add more than 400 megawatts to the national electricity grid.

They include a 10MW solar plant at Gitaru, marking KenGen’s entry into solar energy generation. Others are Quint Power’s 40MW solar plant at Nyakwere Hills, Kisii-focused solar microgrid firm Powerhive, and a 70MW geothermal power plant in Olkaria.

Others are Xago and Green Millennia Energy, which are each building a 40MW solar farm in Siaya and Isiolo, respectively.