NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 11 – A Sh59 million Centre of Excellence focused on the generation of solar energy has been launched at the Kenyatta University as Nairobi hosted the third United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA).
The initiative supported by the French government saw the construction of a 100kWp solar pilot plant unveiled at the university, through the technical help of Urbasolar – a French industrial group specializing in designing, financing, and building and operating photovoltaic plants.
France’s Minister for Ecological and Inclusive Transition Nicolas Hulot said during the commissioning of the project that the project was a demonstration of the commitment of the French government to cut down on fuel emissions in line with the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) global ambition towards a pollution-free planet.
“This project is a symbol of what the French government believes it should do when it wants to be at the forefront of the global battle against climate change,” Hulot, an environmental activist and former journalist said during the launch.
“Climate change represents a threat to both humankind and the planet and therefore is a common concern for all humankind,” he noted.
According to Hulot, France is working towards a definite burn of fossil fuels in an effort geared towards eradicating pollution which according to UN statistics accounts for 6.5 million deaths annually, across the globe.
“In my country, I have just submitted a law to burn definitively all oil and gas exploration and exportation in French territory by the year 2040,” he said.
“It is also why I’ve decided to end the selling of all petrol and diesel vehicle in France by the year 2040,” Hulot added.
He urged Kenyatta University to utilize the solar project which will offer training and technical expertise study the feasibility for the development of utility-scale projects within the university.
Hulot also lauded Kenya for adopting alternative power generation plans urging for continued efforts towards completely eradicating the combustion of fossil fuels.
“Renewable energy is the way to earn your energy dependency and I believe Kenya should be commended for successfully demonstrating that it is possible to combine an ambitious development agenda alongside championing the development of renewable energy,” he said.
Speaking during the event, Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, Charles Keter, said the solar project will mark a turning point in innovation research around renewable energy.
Keter extolled France for supporting initiatives aimed at improving the uptake of solar-generated energy in the country.
“Over the past few years, we have received the support of over €800 million and we want to continue collaborating in doing many other things in the years to come,” Keter indicated.
The solar project was conceived on October 2, 2017 when a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the French Ministry of Education and Kenyatta University.