KENYA – InfraCo Africa, an investment company of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) and Rural Village Energy Solutions (RVE.SOL) have signed a shareholder agreement for the continuation of a rural electrification project using stand-alone solar systems in Busia County, Kenya.
Rural Village Energy Solutions (RVE.SOL) previously held all the shares in KPEA.
Under the agreement, the company that finances, builds and operates off-grid clean energy systems is 40% owned by InfraCo Africa.
The funds injected by the investment company will be used to finance the expansion of KPEA in Busia County where the company plans to install 22 mini-grids powered by solar photovoltaic energy.
Each mini-grid will have a storage system to ensure that people can continue to benefit from electricity after sunset or in bad weather.
Each installation will have a capacity of between 10 and 60 kWp, for a total of 512 kWp.
“The project will not only expand access to clean, reliable solar energy in rural areas, but will also pilot the provision of street lighting, pumping and water purification, as well as financing of appliances so that communities and businesses can truly maximize the health, safety and economic benefits of clean, renewable energy,” said Gilles Vaes, InfraCo Africa’s chief executive.
According to the London, England-based company, the future solar mini-grids will provide 7,000 connections in rural Busia County and work on the installation of the 22 solar mini-grids will begin in the first quarter of 2022, with full commissioning expected in the third quarter of the same year. This electrification project follows a first phase in which KPEA electrified 11 villages in Kenya.
The next operation which aims to electrify 22 villages is supported by Green Mini-Grid facility Kenya (GMG Kenya), a program implemented by the French Development Agency (AFD) since 2016 and funded by UKAid and the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund (EUATF). KPEA has also received a technical assistance grant of $235,000 from the PIDG.
“The project will not only expand access to clean, reliable solar energy in rural areas, but will also pilot the provision of street lighting, pumping and water purification, as well as financing of appliancesGilles Vaes – Chief Executive, InfraCo Africa
According to theInternational Energy Agency (IEA), 320 million people have gained access to electricity between 2010 and 2018.
However, the global population’s growth implies that more and more people have no access to electricity in Africa and they were 590 million at the end of 2018.
Three main solutions exist to power sustainably those populations: grid extension, individual systems, and mini-grids.
The economic choice between those solutions is mainly linked to the distance to the grid, to the density of the population and to the level of service.
Grid extension is the most classical answer but has several issues and can be extremely expensive for remote communities and does not necessarily offer a good quality of service (case of “bad-grid”).
In its latest “Africa Energy Outlook“, the IEA considers grid extension as the least-cost option only for 45% of the population.
Mini-grids, local and isolated networks, have started to gain momentum in the last 5 to 10 years and in cases where the population is dense enough, they can offer a similar quality of service than grid extension as well as a lower cost than Solar Home Systems.
It could represent the least-cost option for 30% of the non-connected African population.
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