KENYA – Kaimosi Tea Estates, a Kenyan based tea producer, is eyeing production of its own power through investing in solar energy as it moves to boost efficiencies.

The company has applied for a licence from the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) to build and operate a 1.5Mwp solar plant to help cut its operational costs.

“The project involves the construction of a 1.5MWp solar photovoltaic (PV) plant on land owned by Kaimosi Tea Estates Limited in Nandi County for own use,” said the firm in a notice.

With the investments, Kaimosi seeks to reduce operational cost associated with outages of electricity supplied by State-controlled Kenya Power and if implemented, Kaimosi will be joining other companies that have turned to cheaper solar power.

Williamson Tea Plc has also announced plans of investing in solar power saying that “The non-delivery of power has forced our hand and during the next financial year to (March) 2020 we shall be considering investing in sustainable, but deliverable power of our own.”

Other companies in the country lead by Unilever Tea Kenya, Kapa Oil Refineries, Oserian Flowers and London Distillers have also turned into solar photovoltaic (PV) grid-tied system to supply power for internal use.

Unilever Tea was the latest to invest in renewable energy after it commissioned a 619 kWp solar plant in Kericho that will see the company save 10,000 tonnes of carbon emissions over 15 years in addition to cushioning it against price volatility.

The project was implemented through a partnership between Unilever and CrossBoundary Energy which saw the first on-site solar installation for a Unilever facility in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The investment by Unilever counts as the largest commercial single-axis tracking installation in Kenya to date in which the solar PV panels are installed on a rotating mounting structure that tracks the movement of the sun throughout the day, increasing the plant’s power output by 20 percent.

Addressing energy efficiency in food processing technologies is an essential ingredient for solving the global energy efficiency challenge.

Industrial food processing technologies need to embrace the cleantech revolution to reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable world.