BERKELEY, CA / NAIROBI, Kenya | POWERHIVE —
Powerhive’s wholly owned subsidiary, Powerhive East Africa Ltd., is the first private company in Kenya’s history to receive a utility concession to generate, distribute, and sell electricity to the Kenyan public.
The concession, granted last February, allows Powerhive East Africa to scale up its operations in the region, beginning in Kisii and Nyamira counties in western Kenya, and to deliver electricity directly to hundreds of rural communities that are beyond the reach of the national grid.
Powerhive was granted the concession as a result of more than two years successfully operating microgrid pilot projects powered by 100% renewable energy in four villages in Kisii, Kenya. The pilot projects serve approximately 1,500 people and have played a critical role in creating new businesses, enabling the use of productive appliances, powering schools, and displacing kerosene and diesel, which emit toxic pollutants.
The Kenya Energy Regulatory Commission’s (ERC) decision to provide a concession to an off-grid utility company reflects the beginning of a global transformation in the energy sector. “The Powerhive permit was granted in recognition of the fact that grid expansion is not always the most economical choice to expand energy access; off-grid alternatives have a role to play,” wrote Dr. Frederick Nyang, director of economic regulation for the Kenya ERC, in a letter. “[Powerhive has demonstrated] that its microgrids are capable of operating in compliance with the prescribed standards for residential and commercial electricity service provision.”
“The government of Kenya recognizes that the fastest and least expensive approach to reach 100% electricity access is to allow private investment in distributed generation infrastructure,” said Powerhive East Africa’s Managing Director Zachary Ayieko. “Other national governments aggressively pursuing rural electrification targets can also benefit greatly by using Powerhive’s energy access solution.”
Historically, governments have pursued rural electrification almost exclusively through major public investments in grid expansion. Through its distributed energy delivery solutions, Powerhive aims to complement such government and utility efforts by focusing on areas that are too costly for grid extension. Powerhive East Africa’s concession, and the resulting deployment of microgrid projects, will set the stage for rapid global expansion and support Kenya’s goal of electrifying 100% of the population by 2030.