Solar Energy

Solar in Kenya

  • Based on her favourable location on the Equator, Kenya receives an estimated daily insolation of 4-6 kWh per square meter which is considered one of the best for solar electric energy production in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Kenya is classified among the Africa leading countries in sale of solar products accounting for 66% of the market share together with Tanzania and Ethiopia. It’s estimated that 30% of the people living in the off-grid areas on the country own a solar product.
  • Solar energy in Kenya is used for electrification, solar water-heating, and processing of farm produce. Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are used in off-grid areas to generate electricity for powering markets, homes/residential/institutions, running office equipment, refrigeration, water pumping, telecommunication installations, street lighting and domestic lighting and electronic equipment.


  • Kenya has one of the most active commercial PV system market in sub-Saharan Africa, with an estimated installed PV capacity in the range of 16 MWp. An estimated 400,000 rural households in Kenya have solar home systems and annual PV sales in Kenya are between 25,000-30,000 systems.
  • The sector is projected to grow at 15 % annually. Under Feed in tariff policy, the government of Kenya has approved several expression of interest for private companies with the aim of generating electric power and selling to the national grid. The projects are various stages of development.
  • The private sector has played a major role in promoting installation and use of Photo Voltaic (PV) Systems in households and institutions around the country. The Government has zero-rated the import duty and removed Value Added Tax (VAT) on renewable energy equipment and accessories.
  • Solar water heating systems are mainly used in homes, hotels, hospitals and learning institutions. The demand for solar water heating (SWH) is projected to grow to more than 800,000 SWH units by 2020. This represents a growth rate of 20% per annum. This demand will mainly be from domestic, institutional and small commercial consumers spurred by the operationalization of the Energy (Solar Water Heating) Regulations.
  • With regard to solar lanterns, Lighting Africa estimates that approximately 700,000 units are in use mostly sold by market-based distributors about 21 of them and over 1500 SMES are also active.  The government initiative of installing solar in school have an estimated total capacity of 2,931 kWp in1400 institutions- the project is still ongoing. The SREP programme have supported the upgrading of existing diesel – minigrids. The current sites with solar include- Mandera(300 kW); Hola(60kW); Habaswein(60kW); Elwak(50kW) and Merti(13kW).
  • Some of the solar PV installations include; Strathmore University 0.6MW; UNEP Building 0.5MW; Changoi tea estate 1 MW; Garden City Mall and Thika Road 850 kW. Others include  off-grid Kitonyoni  project 13.5 kW; Powehive East Africa 80kW; Kericho County solar project 1MW; Red Land Roses, Ruiru 30kW; Uhuru Flower Farm 72 kW; Nanyuki Flower farm 60kW; SOS Children village 60kW;
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Research and development

  • Lesson learnt through solar projects offer a good platform for shaping future project.
  • The MOEP together with GIZ ProSolar project have developed a hand book: Solar mini-grid site selection handbook: for site selection criteria. It is flexible, and can be used as a guideline by all actors in the energy sector to perform a site selection analysis for any mini-grid project, by carefully selecting the appropriate parameters that apply to their own areas of implementation.
  • The site selected for mini-grid implementation has a heavy impact, among other factors, on attracting both public and private investments and the overall sustainability of the system. In response to these factors, there is need for a careful and thorough evaluation of potential sites for implementation in order to deliver both social and economic benefits to potential power consumers, as well as boost investment from the public and private sectors.

Capacity building and training

  • To strengthen and build a critical mass of qualified solar technicians in the country, academic institution and development partners have been conducting trainings. JKUAT and JICA have so far trained over 200 technicians through the ToT approach using the Shiota Method of Training on PV systems covering basics of electricity, on-grid and off grid   PV systems.
  • GIZ in collaboration with National Industrial Training Authority (NITA) also have a revised solar curriculum which is has 3 Tiers.

a) Class T1, which is undertaken in 83 hours entitle the holder to carry out solar PV system installation work for single PV module or single battery DC system of up to 100 Wp and (12V DC system) of up to 200Wp. In 2015, 50 technicians were trained and another 58 in 2016.
b) Class T2, which is undertaken in 80.5 hours entitle the holder to carry out solar PV system installation work for medium size PV systems i.e. multiple modules of up to 300 Wp or multiple batteries which may include an inverter. During the review however, the experts felt that holders of this license should carry out solar PV system 48V of up to 1,200W
c) Class T3, which shall entitle the holder to carry out solar PV system installation work for advanced, including grid connected and hybrid solar PV systems.

Policy and legislation framework

Policies include the Feed-In-Tariff, Net-Metering, Solar PV Regulations 2012 and Solar Water Heating Regulations 2012. The Government has zero-rated the import duty and removed Value Added Tax (VAT) on renewable energy equipment and accessories. The Energy Regulatory Commission has prepared and gazetted the Energy (Solar Water Heating) Regulations 2012 and The Energy (Solar Photovoltaic) Regulations 2012 to provide the much needed policy framework.

  1. Solar Water Heating Regulations 2012: Premises that consume more than 100 litres of water day are required to install solar water heating technology. The installations is the responsibility of architect and real estate developers, the residual maintenance is with the owner of the premises. Ideally electricity should not be supplied to premises’ that have not installed SWH technology and capabilities. The targeted location categories are: domestic residences, premises with laundry services, hospitals, hospitality establishments, and education centres. From the date of enactment, the premises have a period of 5 years to comply.
  2. Solar PV Regulations 2012.:This regulations seeks to protect the consumer from sub-standards Solar PV systems and unlicensed technicians from the Solar PV market.
  3. Feed in Tariff –Solar unit: This instrument aims at promoting generation of grid connected electricity from RES (wind power, biomass, small hydro, solar, biogas and geothermal) and specifies the contents of a Standardised PPA for both up to and above 10 MW plants. Once a PPA is established, the tariff is secured for 20 years


To ensure quality delivery of products and services in the solar industry, the Kenya Bureau of Standard have the following Kenya Standards that relate to test methods, code of practice design of solar products and accessories;

  • KS ISO 9846:1993:Solar energy – Calibration of a pyranometer using a pyrheliometer.
  • KS ISO/TR 9901:1990: Solar Energy – Field Pyranometers – Recommended practice for use.
  • KS ISO TR 9901: Solar Energy – Field Pyranometers – Recommended practice for use.
  • KS ISO 9553:1997: Solar energy – Methods of testing preformed rubber seals and sealing compounds used in collectors.
  • KS ISO 9845-1:1992: Solar energy – Reference solar spectral irradiance at the ground at different receiving conditions – Part 1: Direct normal and hemispherical solar irradiance for air mass 1,5.
  • KS ISO 9060:1990: Solar energy – Specification and classification of instruments for measuring hemispherical solar radiation and direct solar radiation.
  • KS ISO TR 10217: 1989: Solar energy – Water heating Systems – Guide to material selection with regard to internal corrosion.
  • KS ISO 9459-1:1993: Solar heating – Domestic water heating systems – Part 1: Performance rating procedure using indoor test methods.
  • KS ISO 9459-2:1995: Solar heating – Domestic water heating systems – Part 2: Outdoor test methods for System Performance characterization and yearly Performance prediction of solar–only Systems.


Project/Initiative/ Implementer Highlights
Kenya Off-grid Solar Access project(KOSAP) An initiative by World Bank, MOEP, REA and Kenya Power to increase access to modern energy services in underserved counties of Kenya. The project is expected to provide electricity to approximately 250,000 households, 1030 community facilities, and 620 boreholes through solar mini-grids and standalone systems for community facilities and water pumping.
GIZ ProSolar and Endev Project The Endev Pico solar component aims to build capacity of distribution channels via entrepreneurs and solar technicians, by June 2016, 170,000 products have been sold through 600 active entrepreneurs. The project estimates that over Ksh 42 M have been saved on kerosene and mobile phone charging and 13,000 tons of CO2 emission reductions per year. The ProSolar project have set up a pilot project in Narok with Talek Power in collaboration with Narok County government. The 50kW solar hybrid is delivering power for communities. The project will also work in Marsabit and Turkana to set up the hybrid units.
SNV ENDEV project The project aims at increasing access to and use of modern lighting for households by establishing and strengthening sustainable and commercially viable supply and distribution models for quality PicoPV (1 – 10 W) products and services at the local level. This includes end user awareness creation, capacity development for rural entrepreneurs, the set-up of a decentralized after sales service system and the establishment of payment models that match BoP customers’ irregular cash flows. By end of 2016 90, 626 products were sold using business strategies like SACCOs, Business to Business Model; Last Mile Entrepreneurs and PAYG.
MKOPA Solar A private company that provides energy services to off grid consumers have sold over 391, 000 products as of June 2016. 70,000 of which are 20Watts systems that come as a set with a TV. The rest are 8Watts.
WWF Under the WWF Clean Energy Village initiative over 500 households in Kwale County have been supported to acquire solar lanterns for lighting and phone charging. For institutions in Narok the project supported Leshuta primary school with a solar PV system. Kajiado: Supported five primary schools, Kirkuria, Inkiito, Enarau, Oldupai, Oltanki. Kwale: Supported Wasini and Mukwiro primary school in Wasini Island with a solar PV system. On average, the systems generate 1.2 KW power.

Case study

  • Promotion of solar-hybrid mini-grids within the framework of the German Climate Technology electricity. It is being used to test an operating model that can be upscaled; at the same time, it is assessing the economic viability of privately run mini-grids. Initiative (DKTI)
  • Electrification in remote areas has improved – with the participation of the private sector as a model for nationwide electrification.The project benefits users in private households and small businesses in remote rural areas that the national power grid is not expected to reach in the foreseeable future.
  • Technical and financial cooperation are closely linked in the project, which forms part of the German Climate Technology Initiative (DKTI). Running parallel to GIZ’s advisory services, KfW Development Bank is financing investment projects. In addition, the project is cooperating with Energising Development (EnDev) Kenya in implementing a results-oriented financing instrument. With funding from the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), it supports private project developers of solar-hybrid village power plants in establishing mini-grids.
  • An advanced training course has been developed for solar technicians, qualifying them to install solar-hybrid village power systems. The technicians are trained and certified using a 10-kW training facility financed by the project at Strathmore University. Partnerships with other education institutions increase the outreach of the training courses.

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