Our first Solar PV Project was one of the largest roof-mounted systems in Kenya; a 1400kw plant for a plastic manufacturing company in Nairobi. This was a tremendous achievement for us for various reasons;
1) we were expanding from mechanical engineering into electrical engineering, which meant a whole new skill set was needed to execute projects successfully
2) We were entering a market that already had a lot of competition, and amidst that, we were awarded the largest solar PV plant in the private sector, at the time
3) This award depicted exactly how much trust and faith our customers have in us.
4) Having such a huge and successful installation, we have grown to a total of 25 MW worth of solar PV solutions in a very short period of time
5) Our group’s goal is to empower Africa with sustainable solutions in the energy and environment sector; moving in to this industry took us several steps closer to achieving our goal
The company is in the plastic injection molding and the plastic blow molding industry, which is very high in electrical energy usage. To be precise, this particular customer was consuming 5MW of power daily! With electricity costs perpetually increasing in Kenya, the customer was finding it difficult to meet its demand at a price their consumers were willing to pay. With this in mind, they started looking at cost-cutting opportunities wherein they discovered solar PV solutions and had already received various quotes. However, the size of the system being quoted was a mere 800-900kw due to their limited roof space.
At the time we were very new to the industry and were called in for an evaluation simply due to our long-standing relationship with the customer. They had tremendous trust in our engineering capabilities and gave us the project to execute. During the analysis and system design stage, we found an opportunity to provide a larger capacity for two main reasons;
1) A thorough roof analysis with a skilled team showed us areas we could utilise that previously weren’t evaluated
2) given our vision, we only brought in Tier 1 products with higher ratings for all components of the plant
This allowed us to provide a system size of 1400kw within the same area.
Impact on the African Solar Industry.
The impact of this installation on our customer: 2.1 million units of electricity is generated annually by this Solar PV plant, thereby allowing a saving of more than 30 million Kenyan Shillings per annum on power cost. Such a saving means lower cost of goods, and ultimately lower prices for the end consumer.
Second, there was a fear amongst several manufacturers that having a rooftop-mounted system could compromise their operations both due to the work on the roof during installation (fear of droppings of materials onto the manufacturing process), and also due to potential system failures. After witnessing the success of such a huge rooftop plant, several manufacturers within the industry were reassured that no such issues existed.
The plant works in tandem with the grid, hence no potential downtime, and the installation procedure does not involve drilling the roof hence the fear of droppings ceases to exist. Moreover, we use walkways on site making it a safe environment for maintenance thereafter, without interfering with day-to-day operations. This gave confidence to various C&I players to go green, which means a greener carbon footprint across the continent.
This plant alone will reduce over 45,000 Tons of CO2 over its lifetime. Given the success of the project coupled with the eagerness of several C&I players to onboard Solar PV Solutions, Africa’s carbon footprint will only better over time.