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The renewables challenge in African Nations

Irina Slav, writer for, discusses the renewables challenge for African countries and our CEO, Toby Gill, lent his perspective:

“In 2019, I went on a trade mission to Kenya, as part of the GCRF and Innovate UK Energy Catalyst 7, specifically to understand how our technology, with its fuel-flexibility and pollutant-free capabilities, could enable completely-renewable microgrids with the energy security and reliability the customers required. Whilst there, I met with a cross section of the local energy industry, from entrepreneurs to the CEO and COO of Kenya Power and Kenya’s Energy Minister. The understanding I gained was that there are two ways to bring electricity to the entire population of Kenya by 2030, and that is either extending the National Grid or building micro-grids. Of those two, micro-grids offer the most economically viable solution, even in Kenya, one of the African nations with the most developed national grid.

“However, even though micro-grids are more cost-effective than installing country-wide electricity infrastructure, the economics are still challenging. As of two years ago, according to local micro-grid developer, the cost to connect one household to their grid was around $1000 dollars. When you then consider the average customer is paying less than $1-2 per day for their electricity use, the payback period for these energy companies becomes untenable.

“It is not the p/kWh of wind, solar, or hydro that is the limiting factor, nor does it come down the mixture of wind, solar, energy storage and fuel-based power to deliver secure and reliable power. It is the fact that the cost of deploying and installing the electricity infrastructure is too high relative to the revenue potential of the customers. Now, whilst this example is specific to Kenya, what this demonstrates in that it is not the cost of the generating or energy storage technologies that is limiting electricity access in African nations, but rather the cost of deploying the distribution infrastructure.”


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