NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 27 – Unilever Tea and Cross-Boundary Energy have signed a solar services agreement for the installation and operation of a 600-kilowatt power plant at the company’s Kericho tea plantation.
The plant is expected to start producing power in mid-2018 with Unilever to pay monthly power bills generated by Cross Boundary Energy who will finance and operate the plant for 15 years.
The solar plant is the first commercial and industrial power purchase agreement for Unilever in Africa and is expected to deliver substantial savings on power costs and reduce its carbon emissions by over 10,000 tonnes over the plant’s 30 –year lifetime.
Unilever Tea Kenya Managing Director Nicholaos Yiannakis says the solar power deal will help the company achieve Unilever’s sustainable living plan that aims to source 100 percent of total energy from renewable by 2030.
“We intend to be the first of Unilever’s facilities in Sub-Saharan Africa to be operating on 100pc renewable energy by 2030,” said Yiannakis.
CrossBoundary Energy has commissioned Solarcentury East Africa to design, procure, construct and commission the plant and partnered with SolarAfrica to act as a technical partner to manage project delivery and asset management.
Over 90 percent of the energy used in the Kericho factory already comes from renewable sources.
Hydroelectric power turbines provide around 70 percent of electricity and have been in use for nearly 100 years at the Kericho plantation.
In 2016, Kenya recorded the highest volume of sales in domestic off-grid systems in Africa, and globally, was second only to India.
However, adoption of solar by business has been constrained by high upfront costs and the perceived complexity of management and ownership of large solar installations.