An Ambitious Renewable Energy Project Is Connecting One In Five Public Primary Schools In Kenya To Solar Power

In order to facilitate the digital learning program that will see schools equipped with laptops and tablets, Kenya's Rural Electrification Authority (REA) is betting on solar power to meet the shortfall in electricity supply from the national grid.

Solar panels and photovoltaic systems will be installed in 4,175 public primary schools, adding to the 18,074 connected to the national grid, which brings the total number of schools connected to electricity to 22,249.

The National Public Primary Schools Electrification Project was started in 2013 in order to lay the foundation for the Government's Digital Learning Project. REA is looking to connect more 480 institutions by the end of August.

REA, which is mandated to set up the infrastructure to deliver power to rural areas in Kenya, has commenced the construction of a 55 MW solar power plant in Northern Kenya to supply the remote region bordering Somalia with electricity and connect it to the national grid.

Under the project, more than 200,000 260-watt solar panels will be installed as part of the biggest solar power project in the country, and 625,000 homes will be supplied with electricity. The project will be financed by the government of China at a cost of US$125 million, and completion is expected by the end of 2017.

In addition to this, the government of Kenya is extending electricity supply to 591 public facilities which include shopping centers, health facilities, and water supply plants and 35.460 households. The US$63.5 million project is being funded jointly the government of Kenya, the US, Arab Development Bank, Saudi Fund for Development, and OPEC Fund for Development.

Kenya has in recent years increased its power grid capacity from 1,400MW to 2,400MW according to the Energy Regulatory Commission, meaning that about 40 percent of households to power in the last six years.

To meet the shortfall, the country is getting more renewable energy sources on board in addition to hydroelectricity, with geothermal and wind capacity being expanded to increase supply.

Renewable energy projects are expected to produce 500 MW of power within the next four coming years.

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