Solar in state buildings can help us go green

Despite solar energy having become a major challenger to conventional electricity generation technologies, it is given little strategic attention as the world still depends on forms of power that require strenuous efforts to harvest.

Despite solar energy having become a major challenger to conventional electricity generation technologies, it is given little strategic attention as the world still depends on forms of power that require strenuous efforts to harvest.

The sun radiates more energy in one day than the world consumes in a year.

Sunshine-rich Kenya is developing a solar power plant on 200 acres in Garissa County, which is set to be the largest in East and Central Africa and will feed 54.64 megawatts of electricity into the national grid.

According to Energypedia, however, Kenya’s energy sector is dominated by petroleum and electricity with wood fuel providing basic energy needs of the rural communities, urban poor and the informal sector.

Electricity access is still low despite the government’s ambitious target to increase connectivity from 15 percent to at least 65 percent by 2022.

SOLAR ENERGY

On the flip side, the World Bank ranked Kenya the seventh-most improved country in the energy sector and the second in Africa over the past eight years.

This is due to the country’s significant progress in developing enabling policy frameworks to support renewable energy deployment.

It would be noble to have a policy requiring every building in Nairobi and all major towns to harvest solar energy.

The broad structures and skyscraper roofs would be either fully- or half-installed with solar panels that harness thermal energy.

Last year, the Indian Government signed a memorandum of understanding with a solar energy firm to instal grid-connected rooftop solar panels in all government buildings. The same can happen in Kenya.

POLICY

During the sunny season, no public building — including Kenya Power headquarters — should be supplied by any other form of electricity other than solar.

Kenyans and policymakers ought to be thinking about having hydroelectricity as a backup for solar energy and fallback strategy in the rainy season.

Recall the near-crisis in 2017 and early last year when hydro power generation dropped following a long dry spell.

Single out Nairobi and its weather conditions as a case study. Picture the untapped sunshine from December to March, when average highs are above 20 degrees Celsius and lows in the mid to upper 10 degrees Celsius.

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