Africa’s largest solar carport has been unveiled at Garden City Mall, the newly opened half-billion-dollar flagship business park complex in Nairobi, Kenya. The 858kWp plant is on the top storey of a car park at Garden City Mall, part of an integrated residential, retail and office development worth US$540 million.
The solar carport system has been designed using solar hybrid technology, a highly innovative energy solution and one of only a handful globally and it generates a capacity that can power 550 urban homes. According to the design, during the day, the carport generates solar electricity, and in the event of the grid going down, the hybrid technology enables the carport to run in tandem with the diesel generator.
PV Tech reports that the system will power lights and escalators and other infrastructure and fittings at the mall. Carports have been the preferred installation type at some commercial projects mainly due to the fact that they take advantage of otherwise unused real estate space above cars and provide shading for parked vehicles.
Actis, the Garden City complex’s main investor, selected the Solarcentury-SolarAfrica project confident in the knowledge that it will pay for itself through electricity costs saved, with the estimated 1,256MWh per year of electricity generated by the carport arrays expected to be consumed onsite.
Actis Kenya’s director Koome Gikunda said, “Garden City is a project with lots of firsts in this market, but we are particularly proud of the solar carport. We knew that we wanted a solar component to the project early on but the upfront costs were prohibitive. We’re very grateful to SolarAfrica for stepping in, working closely with partners Solarcentury, and for helping us to realise our vision.”
The principal secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, Joseph K Njoroge, present at the launch praised the project stating that it is certain to encourage innovation in the energy sector and should successfully reduce the current overdependence on the national grid and costly diesel-powered energy.
“We are seeing more and more businesses in Kenya looking to invest in solar because of the multiple benefits it affords – notably, it enables organizations to take control of their long term energy spend,” noted Guy Lawrence, SolarCentury Kenya’s Director. “A system will produce free solar electricity for at least 25 years, the average lifetime of a system.”
Using solar electricity means that Garden City Mall will cut carbon emissions by 18,000 tonnes during the 25-year lifetime of the system.