London Distillers mulls expanding solar energy storage capacity in Kenya

KENYA – London Distillers Kenya (LDK), distributor of artisanal wines and spirits, is in talks with UK firm SolarCentury for solar energy storage technology that will see the brewer cut dependence on the national grid by 80 per cent.

The project, according to reports by People Daily, is expected to boost LDK’s photovoltaic (PV) electricity beyond the current 924 MW installed capacity.

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“We are able to rely on solar energy and therefore relieving the burden of connection to the national grid.

“Currently what we want to do is try to harness the energy storage so that we are able to even use it at night. We are trying to get some service providers to upscale the solar capacity,” Crispus Michira, environment officer at LDK said.

LDK has cut power bill costs by 50 percent since it started using the 924 MW solar plant in 2018 in Athi River, an area with high sun radiation levels.

Meanwhile, the company’s industry peer, Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL) has also heightened its capacity in the utilization of green energy with the launch of a new biomass steam plant constructed at a cost of US$42.9m.

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The biofuels facility, located at its Tusker brewing plant is expected to reduce its direct carbon emissions by 95% (about 42,000 tonnes of carbon a year).

The biomass project is part of KBL’s parent company Ksh 22 billion (US$199m) investment plan aimed to facilitate its transition to use of green energy by 2030.

The manufacturer and distributor of Tusker, Chrome, Jonnie walker brands mulls to entirely shift from use of electricity from the national grid, Kenya Power and generate its own power from solar.

EABL targets to generate at least 9.3 megawatts at its Ruaraka plant and 2.4-megawatt from solar power in Kisumu.

Also, it seeks to set up a power generation plant with an estimated capacity of 2.2 megawatts (MW) at its subsidiary, East Africa Maltings Limited, supplier of quality brewing raw materials in the form of malt, barley and sorghum to the brewing units of the EABL group.

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The alcohol drink makers investments come amid a warning from Kenya Power that some of its industrial customers — who account for about 68.31 percent of its sales revenues — are gradually shifting to own-generated solar power, dealing a further blow to its already dwindling finances.

Some of the food companies that have already turned to alternative sources of power include Mumias Sugar Company which generates electricity from bagasse, and Kenafric industries, among many others.

The trend is also reflected across Africa with players such as Guinness Ghana Breweries, Nigeria Breweries, Big Bottling Company, Schweppes, South African Breweries, Shoprite, etc having set up solar power plants.

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