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Pre-feasibility study to assess floating solar PV potential in Kenya

Multiconsult has been contracted by Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) to conduct a pre-feasibility study into floating solar PV potential at three main hydropower reservoirs.

The study, which will be funded by the German development bank KfW, will evaluate the hybrid operation of the Kamburu, Kiambere and Turkwel hydropower plants with floating solar PV to optimize water usage and power production, and contribute to a more flexible and sustainable energy system in Kenya.

Multiconsult said it would review the power infrastructure at the sites, assess the hydro turbine characteristics, operation of the reservoirs, water flow patterns and power evacuation, as well as provide recommendations about the integration of floating solar PV in hybrid operation with the existing infrastructure. The social, environmental and climate aspects and associated risks will also be assessed. The project could generate numerous benefits, according to Syed Ali, a senior advisor at Multiconsult, most notably from the complementarity of solar production during daytime and hydropower generation during peak times in the evening, which may reduce reliance on oil/coal-fired powerplants and thus reduce carbon emissions, as well as conserve water storage in the reservoirs. Large-scale floating solar plants can also reduce the evaporation rate of water, resulting in savings of water as well, according to Syed.

The Kamburu (94 MW) and Kiambere (168 MW) plants on the Tana river in Eastern Kenya are part of the Seven Forks cascade, which comprises five plants, with a total installed capacity of 630.5 MW. The Turkwel multipurpose dam, with an associated 106 MW hydropower plant, in northwestern Kenya, impounds a reservoir covering 6500 ha with a storage capacity of 1.6 x 109 m³.