Wartsila Oyj’s East African unit won two engineering, procurement and construction contracts to develop grid-connected solar farms in Kenya, each with a capacity of 40 megawatts.
Construction is expected to begin next year, according to George Oywer, a business development manager at Wartsila Eastern Africa.
The East African nation, which has an electricity supply deficit, is boosting production from renewable sources including wind and geothermal as it cuts reliance on expensive diesel-powered plants. There are about 15 utility-scale solar projects announced in Kenya with a total capacity of 526 megawatts, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Wartsila said one of its project in Kesses, about 290 kilometers (180 miles) northwest of the capital, Nairobi, is owned by Alten Renewable Energy Developments BV and financial close is expected by March 2019.
“This will be our first solar project in the eastern Africa region,” Oywer said by phone. “Renewable energy is the next frontier.”
While Oywer declined to say how much the plants will cost, it takes an average $1 million dollars (874,889 euros) per megawatt to develop projects of that size.
The second plant is planned for the coastal Lamu region. The developer is negotiating a power-purchase agreement with Kenya Power Plc and the project should be connected in June 2020, he said. Wartsila has an option to take as much as a 19.9 percent stake in that farm, he said.
The Finnish power generator in the past supplied diesel turbines for four thermal projects in Kenya for a total 450 megawatts.
Separately, Kenya switched on its largest solar facility with installed capacity of 50 megawatts, Energy Secretary Charles Keter said by phone. The park in the semi-arid eastern county of Garissa is injecting 15 megawatts into the national grid and will run at full capacity in a week when commissioning tests are complete, he said.