Multiconsult assessing potential for floating solar PV in Kenya

16 July 2020

The project includes the three dam reservoirs, Kamburu, Kiambere and Turkwell in Kenya. Here Kamburu reservoir. Photo: Multiconsult

Multiconsult has announced it is to conduct a pre-feasibility study for floating solar PV (F-PV) potential on three main dam reservoirs for KenGen in Kenya. 

The project, which will contribute to a more flexible and sustainable energy system in Kenya, includes the Kamburu, Kiambere and Turkwell reservoirs.

In the project, which is funded by the German development bank KfW, Multiconsult will review the power infrastructure at the sites, assess hydro turbines characteristics, operation of the reservoirs, water flow patterns and  power evacuation in the grid, as well as provide recommendations about the integration of F-PV in hybrid operation with the existing infrastructure. The social, environmental and climate aspects and associated risks will also be assessed.

“Numerous benefits will be realized by this project,” explained Syed Ali, Senior Advisor and Project Manager at Multiconsult. “The hybrid operation of the dams with floating solar PV (F-PV) will facilitate the management of power and water usage in an appropriate and cost-effective way in addition to water savings due to less evaporation from the reservoir. Kenya has abundant solar resources which means solar power can be used during daytime when sun is abundant, and hydro power during peak times in the evening. This may reduce reliance on conventional and oil/coal fired power plants and thus reduce carbon emissions.”,

The power production of these large hydro dams may be affected by climate change, such as larger variations in water inflow and more extreme weather. Such a scenario will affect the water levels in the reservoirs and water management could become more challenging. Hybrid hydropower-connected F-PV plants in the existing dams could offset the loss of electrical production due to variation in water levels. Furthermore, hybrid F-PV and hydropower plants could facilitate grid integration cost savings by utilizing the same grid connection. Large-scale FPV plants can also reduce the evaporation rate of water which may result in saving of water as well, according to Ali.

“We believe that the future of power systems in many African countries will rely on low cost variable renewables working together with reliable and flexible hydropower reservoirs,” commented VP of Energy Systems at Multiconsult Ryan Anderson. “Multiconsult intends to help its clients to be at the forefront of this development. It is exciting that KenGen, with support from KFW, are looking to be a path-breaker for the continent in this regard.”

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