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Williamson Tea

1MWp solar farm


Changoi, Bomet County, Kenya

Location

Changoi, Bomet County


Size

1 MWp
Annual generation

1,600,000 kWh
Lifetime CO2 savings

30,000 tonnes

East Africas largest solar farm


Williamson Teas solar photovoltaic (PV) system is nestled amongst the hills in the
Kericho District of Kenya. Owned and funded by Williamson Tea, a publicly listed
company in Kenya, it is the largest solar installation in East Africa.
Williamson Tea is forward thinking and committed to sustainable farming and
creating a greener future for tea production in Kenya. They chose solar since its a
clean and sustainable energy source which will enable the company to significantly
reduce its spend on non-renewable energy such as diesel, and lower its carbon
footprint.
Solarcentury designed a solar PV system to provide approximately 30% of the
tea factorys electricity needs. When the national grid is working, the solar power
system will work in parallel with the grid and reduce the amount of grid electricity
imported. When the grid is unavailable, the solar power system will work together
with the standby diesel generators, significantly reducing the amount of diesel
consumed.
The solar PV system at Changoi is one of only six systems in the world using this
technology. The design enables the solar power system to operate in parallel
with a standby generator and creates a stable power supply, negating the need
for batteries. This makes solar an economically viable solution for many factories,
farms and other businesses in locations where grid power is unstable and standby
generators are relied on for power.

Why did Williamson Tea


choose solar?
Costs
In Kenya, the cost of diesel is US $1 per litre (fuel
costs per kWh of diesel-generated power can exceed
US $0.30 per kWh). The cost of grid power for
businsses is $0.20 per kWh.

PV + G rid
1400

In comparison, the cost of power from a solar PV


system is generally $0.10-0.15/kWh, depending on
finance costs and radiation.

1000

kW

800

Adding a solar PV system to the local network to


offset diesel and grid consumption will significantly
reduce overall energy bills for Williamson Tea. Cost
of energy is the most significant business expense,
which is typical of many rural businesses, so there is
great potential to boost profits and give a competitive
advantage.

Location
Kenya is an ideal location for solar electricity; being
on the equator where the sun is high in the sky all day
provides great conditions for getting the most out of a
solar system.

E lectricity Savings

Solar G eneration
400

200

Like all renewable energy technologies the up-front investment is the major cost item. However, once a
PV system is installed there are no on-going costs besides cleaning and inspection.
In the example below, we sized a solar system to be as large as possible but limited the size so that
the business owner would be able to make use of all the electricity produced. The result is a 1MWp
system that will produce 1,600,000 units of electricity per annum. Over 25 years, with no upfront
cost, the business will save over $10m.

Like many businesses, Williamson Tea is supplied


with power from the grid, but also uses on-site diesel
generators during power cuts.
Solar power can be used to reduce the power demand
on the grid, whilst reducing electricity bills, and reduce
the amount of diesel which is consumed by the on-site
generators.

C umulative balance, full 25 years, no financing

C ombined revenue and savings, first 10 years


600

14
12

Reducing electricity and diesel bills by using solar has a


direct benefit to the bottom line, improving profitability
and gaining a competitive edge.

500

10

400
300
N et income
C umulative balance
200

C umulative balance, full 25 years, no financing


14
12

-4

C ombined revenue and savings, first 10 years


1

500
Year

Year

400

Value of diesel electricity


saved, $

T housands

N et income
300
C umulative balance
200

USD

USD

600

10
M illions

Value of gr
saved, $

100

-2

Value of di
saved, $

T housands

USD

USD

M illions

Davis Chirchir, Energy Secretary, speaking at the launch of


Williamson Tea solar farm.

Purchase from utility

600

The solar PV system will also support the grid by improving the power factor of the factory and
providing voltage support at the end of the supply line.

The solar alternative

Our ministry is considering the introduction of net metering,


which allows residential and commercial customers who generate
their own electricity from solar power to feed electricity they do
not use back into the grid,

Load/Demand

1200

00:00
00:30
01:00
01:30
02:00
02:30
03:00
03:30
04:00
04:30
05:00
05:30
06:00
06:30
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07:30
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08:30
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09:30
10:00
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18:00
18:30
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22:00
22:30
23:00
23:30
00:00

The world is currently highly dependent on fossil fuels


for energy. There are three major issues which make
this unsustainable. First, fossil fuels are very expensive,
with the price set to rise even further. Second, fossil
fuels are finite and will eventually run out. Third, when
burned they release large volumes of CO2 into the
atmosphere, causing climate change and hazardous
weather. Solar power is simple, clean and cost-effective.
Unlike fossil fuels, the suns energy is guaranteed as the
sun shines every day, and will never run out.

4
2
0

Value of grid electricity


saved, $

100

-2

-4

1
Year

6
Year

10

10

April
Installation of the PV modules,
inverters and cabling

Project timeline
Solarcentury was on site for just over two
months, through March and April.
The official launch and connection to the
grid took place in May 2014.

May
The hybrid system
is installed (read
more overleaf)
March
The solar PV
construction begins

Ths system is
commissioned
and launched

February
Tea cleared and site prepared

This innovative low carbon solar power solution is a perfect


example of the multiple benefits that can be achieved by
Britain and Kenya working together. Solar PV can help
reduce costs, safeguard the environment and enable Kenya
to compete on the world stage.
Dr Christian Turner, the British High Commissioner to Kenya,
speaking at the launch of Williamson Tea solar farm.
October
Contract signed

How the Changoi solar farm works

Solar hybrid technology


Dr Daniel Davies
Director, East Africa
New control strategies
enable large solar PV
systems, such as the one
at Williamson Tea, to be operated in parallel with diesel
generators, which act as a back-up power source for when
the sun isnt shining. This kind of system, seen here, is
known as a hybrid PV system.
Operating solar PV systems alongside diesel generators
presents a number of challenges including ensuring a
stable power supply with the solar PV operating in parallel
with the generator, and ensuring the generator never runs
below 35% part load, which can damage the machinery.
The hybrid technology means that solar PV systems can

Solar with a standby generator


run alongside diesel generators without the need for
expensive batteries. The control system manages the
output from the solar PV system to ensure that the diesel
generator operates at a minimum, and also so that the
diesel generator can be deployed if loads rapidly increase
or if clouds momentarily reduce the solar output.
One of the most common hybrid applications is where
solar PV is being used to reduce the off-take from the
public grid in places with expensive and intermittent
power, and then to use the same system to work in
parallel with the standby generators. This reduces fuel
consumption without removing the essential back-up of
the diesel generator for night-time operation or when
the sun is not shining. Where local utilities do not allow
reverse power flow into the distribution network, the
control system can be used to switch off the inverters
when reverse power flow is about to happen.

When the grid is available the PV operates in parallel with the grid.

Solar working in parallel with the grid or diesel:

Grid

Loads

Utility
electricity meter

Changeover switch

Diesel
generator

F
Cost of
diesel generated
electricity

Main
distribution
board

Solar
generation
meter

DC to AC
inverter

Solar
generator

About Solarcentury
Solarcentury is one of the most respected solar companies in the
world. Founded in 1998, it has been around since the early days of
the solar industry and has been part of the evolution that has made
PV the attractive investment it is today. Solarcentury has put solar
on a greater variety of sites than any other company in the industry,
including the worlds largest solar bridge in London, Blackfriars,
winning multiple awards for its project and product innovation.
We are excited about the opportunity to work with the various
renewable energy stakeholders in Kenya. We have worked with
the Kenya Renewable Energy Association on the initial draft on a
set of Kenyan PV Installation Guidelines. The Kenyan Association
of Manufacturers is now developing this with the assistance of UK
Department for International Development.
The development of standards for training and regulation of
suppliers and installers is key to building a safe and reliable solar
industry, this has been recognised by the Kenyan Energy Regulator
the Energy Regulatory Commission, ERC, who have imposed
a requirement for those companies selling and installing solar
sytsems to be licenced. Solarcentury is proud to have completed
this registration process and carries the ERC C1 Licence.
Here at Changoi, Solarcentury were the designers, suppliers and
installation contractors. We developed the concept design during
the early phase of the project and supported the developers with
designs and system modelling. We were then contracted to do the
detailed system design and installation and will be operating and
maintaining the site.

Solar home systems


Solar is flexible, and as well as large-scale utility power systems, solar PV can
benefit those using domestic energy. Solarcentury was pleased to donate solar
home systems to several employees living at the farm at Williamson Tea, whose
homes are not connected to grid power.

Our business is global and growing, with our headquarters in London


UK, and offices in Germany, The Netherlands, South Africa, Kenya,
Ghana, and Latin American countries.

These simple, effective solar PV systems were formally presented to the employees
by the UK Minister of Energy and Climate Change, Greg Barker during his tour of
the solar farm in April 2014.

Solarcentury in East Africa is headed up by one of Solarcenturys


founders, Dr Dan Davies based in Nairobi, Kenya. Dr Davies is one
of the few solar engineers in Kenya to hold a T3 Solar Technician
Licence.

The clean solar electricity generated by the solar home systems reduces the
employees consumption of costly kerosene which gives off fumes that can cause
health problems. As well as reducing the risk of fire, using solar electricity rather
than kerosene means employees can read, study, and do sewing or other income
generating activities in the evenings, as well as charge their mobile phones and
listen to the radio.
It makes financial sense too, since the employees dont have to spend so much
on kerosene. Research in 2012 by SolarAid, the charity founded by Solarcentury,
found that families in Kenya using solar lights reduce kerosene use by an average
of 77% and save 74 per year.
Solar home lights the facts:



eliable, safe and cost-effective.


R
Charge during the day to give clean, free light at night.
Do not require costly installation or maintenance.
Provide instant light in remote rural areas the electricity grid might never reach.

Find out more


Call

+254 (0)701 918683


Email

internationalenquiries@solarcentury.com
Visit

www.solarcentury.com

Solarcentury is in business for a purpose


to make a big difference in the fight against climate
change through widespread adoption of solar power.
We are a big believer in helping solar change our world
for the better, and we contribute 5% of our net profits
every year to SolarAid, the charity we founded, which
aims to eradicate kerosene lamps from Africa by 2020.

Registered in Kenya no. CPR/2013/109535

PO Box 15097,
00509,
Nairobi, Kenya
SCK007-0514

Solarcentury East Africa Ltd,


Marula Manor, Marula Lane, Karen,
Nairobi, Kenya