Africa’s first airport solar project to be set up in Kenya

19 December 2018

Kenya will soon be home to Africa’s first airport solar photovoltaic (PV) project. According to an announcement by Kenya Airports Authority (KAA), “A first of its kind pilot project in Africa consisting of a ground-mounted 500-kW solar PV power generation facility and mobile airport gate electric equipment was launched at Moi International Airport in Mombasa, Kenya.”

The solar facility will generate 820,000 kWh per year and will avoid at least 1,300 tons of CO₂ every year, Specifically, the 500-kW solar system  will provide pre-conditioned air and compatible electricity o aircraft during ground operations.

In doing so, this new solar-at-gate project will eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft parked at the gate, which currently use their auxiliary power unit (APU) powered by jet fuel or airport ground power units (GPU) fuelled by diesel to run on-board systems and cooling before departing for their next flight. This solar powered gate equipment will serve more than 2,500 flights per year, thereby demonstrating Kenya’s concrete solution to reduce aviation carbon emissions.

This pilot project was implemented as part of a €6.5 million (~$7.3 million) initiative, titled Capacity Building for CO2 Mitigation from International Aviation. The initiative has been implemented by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a specialized agency of the United Nations. The initiative has been funded by the European Union, which targets 14 states – 12 of them from the African region and two from the Caribbean region – to address carbon emissions in the aviation sector.

Kenya is undergoing a transition to a greener and cleaner energy mix. In July 2018, CDC, a development finance institution of the UK government, partnered with Globeleq, an independent power producer and developer in Africa, to provide $66 million in debt financing to the Malindi Solar Group to be utilized for the development of a 52 MW solar photovoltaic power project in South-East Kenya.

Recently the African Development Bank (AfDB) approved a senior loan of $18.17 million for the development of 50 MW Kopere solar power project in Nandi County, Kenya.

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