April 2018 'Milestone' solar deal

CrossBoundary Energy signs deal with Unilever Tea Kenya

Matthew Tilleard (L) and Femi Fadugba (R) from CrossBoundary Energy with Nicholaos Yiannakis from Unilever Tea Kenya

CrossBoundary Energy has announced a "landmark deal" with Unilever Tea Kenya to install and run a 600kW peak solar power plant at the Kericho tea plantation, which is expected to be operational in mid-2018.

Femi Fadugba from CrossBoundary said: "The idea is we allow businesses like Unilever to have cheaper, cleaner power and they pay no upfront cost and bear no technical risk as we do all the maintenance."

Leading technical provider Solarcentury would design and build the plant, he explained, then Solar Africa would manage it throughout the contract.

The Kericho plant is said to be the first commercial solar installation in east Africa to use a tracking system – that is, the ground-mounted photovoltaic panels will continuously move to face the sun, increasing its energy yield.

"The whole team is really excited to be breaking new ground on new technology," said Solarcentury East Africa Director Guy Lawrence. "We believe in making a meaningful difference… by promoting widespread adoption of solar to reduce carbon emissions."

On that front, it is thought that the plant will save about 10,000 tonnes of carbon over its lifetime.

Unilever Tea Kenya Managing Director Nicholaos Yiannakis explained that leaving CrossBoundary to deal with complexity of a solar solution meant his company could focus on its Sustainable Living Plan to use 100% renewable energy by 2030.  He said his firm was already at 90% , with 70% coming from hydroelectric, and the new deal would take that figure to 96%.

He also highlighted the fact it was Unilever's first solar PPA, or power purchase agreement, in Africa which he hoped would show that it was a viable commercial energy source and be a "milestone for others in industry to observe and follow".

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