Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Trade and Development Agency signed a grant with Virunga Power Kenya Limited supporting the development of three run-of-river hydroelectric plants in Kenya.
The grant funds a feasibility study that will evaluate the viability of the sites for power generation and examines the best approach for connecting local homes and businesses to clean, reliable electricity. A U.S. firm will be selected on a competitive basis to perform the feasibility study.
“We are very excited to work with USTDA on these run-of-river hydroelectric projects in Kenya,” said Brian Kelly, Virunga Power Kenya Limited’s Founder and Managing Director. “These funds will help Kenya reach its rural electrification targets, in addition to promoting the business case for community co-ownership and participation in small renewable energy projects across the region and beyond.”
“The study will provide opportunities for U.S. industry to supply products and services that will advance Kenya’s power goals,” said Lida Fitts, USTDA’s Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa. The study will allow the developers to identify U.S. equipment manufacturers and service providers that are well-positioned to outfit the hydroelectric plants.
The Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP), launched at the beginning of this year, has signed a Support Agreement for its first project. The project comprises two run-of-the-river mini-hydro power plants, in the Murang’a and Bungoma counties of Kenya, which are being jointly developed by Virunga Power and local community organizations. Once fully developed, the project will have a total combined capacity of 10 MW of clean energy generation which will be supplied to the Kenyan national grid. In addition, the project will also supply power to the local rural community either through a mini-grid or expansion of the current national power grid to surrounding communities.
With the REPP’s support, the project will provide electrification to local communities that will enable sustainable development and a range of positive community benefits. The nature of the support that the REPP will provide to Virunga Power is built around early stage technical assistance during the developmental phases of the projects, as well as assistance with financial structuring... CONTINUE READING
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and United States President Barack Obama announced Tuesday two new initiatives mobilizing up to $1.4 billion to finance India’s commitment to universal energy access.
Minigrids are renewable energy-based electricity generators that serve a set of consumers. They make up a major part of Modi’s promise to provide electricity to all Indians by 2019. Many have asked whether minigrids could be the next big opportunity beyond the grid. And with this influx of capital, Modi is well-positioned to put that question to the test as he looks to power the more than 18,000 villages that currently lack electricity...
For these success stories to scale in Africa, minigrids must rely on champions who can mobilize the money needed to bridge the market imperfections.
“I’m becoming increasingly obsessed with minigrids,” said Andrew Herscowitz, coordinator for the United States government’s Power Africa initiative. He said it is incumbent on donors and governments to give minigrids a chance to be a part of the solution beyond India. “We have to try,” he said.
Herscowitz named two partners in Beyond the Grid, a Power Africa sub-initiative, as examples of companies that are demonstrating points of commercial viability across multiple places on the African continent. He mentioned Powerhive, which partners with utilities and independent power producers to provide microgrid electricity, and Virunga Power, which develops, invests in, and operates rural distribution grids... CONTINUE READING
Meeting of the Power Africa Senior Advisors Group and the SE4All/AfDB Africa Energy Leaders Group
Several high-level officials joined private sector partners and Power Africa's Advisors for a small "salon-style" dinner in Kigali to share ideas for tackling two issues: (1) Getting micro-grids to the point of commercial viability; and (2) Mobilizing public and private capital for grid roll-out. In addition to many U.S. Government agency leaders, other participants included Nigerian businessman Alike Dangote, Tony Blair, and AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina.
The event also convened the African Governance Initiative Senior Advisors Group and the African Development Bank’s African Energy Leaders Group. There was clear consensus around the need for policy predictability, risk mitigation tools, and integrated planning. There was also agreement on the need for African governments to deploy alternative electrification solutions that can be implemented more quickly than via grid expansion... CONTINUE READING
At the edge of Mt. Kenya National Forest, secluded by dense wilderness, is the rural Kenyan market center of Mutunguru. Those who live in the small villages surrounding Mutunguru enjoy stunning views of green valleys, lush forests, and idyllic waterfalls. But these features have also isolated residents from main roads, and limited access to electricity.
The rivers and waterfalls in this region of Kenya offer more than a pretty view. They hold vast potential to power communities and improve lives.
Recognizing this, a group of Mutunguru leaders rallied the community to find a partner to help build a run-of-the-river hydropower plant in their valley. Instead of bringing in donors, the reason an earlier power project never took flight, they looked for investors. The community leaders applied for grants and conducted feasibility studies, and eventually caught the eye of Virunga Power, a Power Africa partner and founding member of Power Africa’s Beyond the Grid sub-initiative.... CONTINUE READING