The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has kicked-off a tender for the construction of ground-mounted solar projects with capacities ranging from 60 to 500 kW across Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda. “Bidding companies will be expected to bid on all the sites eventually selected for the tender,” the agency specified.
The projects will have a combined capacity of 1.8 MW and can be deployed in combination with storage or diesel power generators. Selected independent power producers will be awarded a long-term PPA backed by the UNHCR’s Green Fund.
Interested developers will have time until November 30 to pre-qualify for the tender. The Swedish International Development Cooperation (Sida) and the German development agency (GIZ) are supporting the UNHCR in the development of the projects. The UNHCR has already conducted a feasibility analysis on potential sites and has commenced legal and technical work to prepare for the tender’s next phases.
State of energy in East Africa
The Eastern Africa region is endowed with a variety of energy resources requisite for sustainable development. These energy resources, which are widely distributed throughout the region, include hydro, wind, biomass, solar, geothermal, peat and fossil fuels.
Despite this enormous potential, the region’s energy sector remains largely undeveloped and is characterized by extremely low levels of modern energy access, low per capita consumption and heavy reliance on biomass energy, which accounts for over 90% of total energy consumption across the region.
Access to electricity in rural areas across the region is less than 1% in rural areas. Wood fuel provides energy needs of the traditional sector including rural and poor urban households and some cottage industries whilst electricity and petroleum products supply a large fraction of the countries commercial energy needs.
Solar energy is an ideal alternative source of energy because of its potential in the region. Most of the countries experience sun nearly year round and solar radiation of between 4 – 6 kWh/m2/day has been estimated. The main barrier to use of solar energy is the high cost of solar energy technologies coupled with the lack of purchasing power of the population. The resource requires a substantial initial cost which many people cannot afford. Several strategies have been put in place by government to promote solar energy, especially for rural electrification.