KenGen is seeking to build a 40MWp floating solar PV power plant on Kamburu Dam, which would make it Kenya’s first grid-level floating solar plant.
The power producer wants to start a feasibility study for the project funded by the German Development Bank (KfW) even as it eyes a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Kenya Power for the electricity that will be generated by the plant.
“A floating solar photovoltaic project with a capacity of approximately 40MWp is currently being developed by KenGen,” said the firm in a notice.
Kamburu is one of the Seven Forks Dams along the Tana River. The dam powers a 94.2MW hydroelectric power station that was commissioned in 1974.
Power firm Ecoligo GmbH built Kenya’s first floating solar PV plant in 2021. The small 69kWp plant was installed on one of the reservoirs at Rift Valley Roses farm in Naivasha.
The energy produced by the solar system is solely for self-consumption and is not fed back into the grid.
KenGen in 2020, with funding from KfW, contracted Norwegian firm Multiconsult to evaluate the potential of setting up hybrid floating solar PV installations on Kamburu, Kiambere, and Turkwel hydropower plants to optimise water usage and power production.
Floating solar plants are growing in popularity globally amid the increasing shift to renewable energies, with experts extolling their effectiveness in lowering the evaporation of water from dams.
Kenya has many solar plants, the largest of which is the Garissa Solar Power Plant with an installed capacity of 54.65MW. Selenkei Solar Farm, Cedate, Alten, and Malindi solar plants all have an installed capacity of 40MW.
The plants supply power to the grid but their intermittence has been a major challenge in balancing of the grid, even as the country mulls adopting solar storage technologies to tap the energy during the day.
Large power users are increasingly tapping solar power to supplement their power from the grid as a means to lower their energy bills.