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Kenya: Red Lands Roses puts operations under solar energy
Self consumption system
According to Urbasolar's Vice President International and New Markets, Paul Keurinck, there are three kind of solar systems allowed in Kenya for three years now; the off-grid solar power systems (particularly for home use or small scale), the feed-in tariff system (people who generate their own green or renewable energy will be paid for doing so) and the self consumption system. And at Redlands Roses, this self consumption system has been implemented. "With this system, the exact amount of electricity needed is being produced. So, the farm produces the electricity and consume it directly. Important is that the size of the project adapts to the size and the daily load care of the farm, so nothing will be wasted", he explains.
Beginning of ground work.
"It is all about finding the right location", says Keurinck. At the farm at Redlands, the panels are placed in between the greenhouses. Half of the panels are placed on the ground and half are placed on parking spots. The panels on the ground are faced west and the panels on the parking spots are faced east. Both are lined North-South. "In this way, they get the most out of the sun", he says. According to Keurinck, it is also possible to use a trackersystem - panels that move along with the sun- but at Red Lands, as they have the space on the right location, using fixed panels facing east and west seemed to be the best option. "The panels will have a yearly production of 369,7 MWh, Global Horizontal Irradiation 2094 kWh/m², and will generate 218.4 KWp."
The panels are connected to a power system, which is also located on the farm. The brain of this electricity system is an automated device designed inhouse by Urbasolar. This automated regulation system has three inputs; the energy from the solar panels, Kenya Power (kplc) and the Genset. The output is the consumption of energy. The device will manage the amount of energy of all the inputs. The energy of the solar panels will always have priority, then the Kenya Power and finally the Getset. In this way, there is always a good production of energy and it is cheaper. "We can produce energy at 8 euro cents per kilowatt hour and Kenya Power at 14 euro cents (15.34 shilling), which is about 43% more expensive. Moreover, this price of Kenya Power is not always stable and we expect it to increase in the future. Therefore, it is important to find a solution. And solar projects are one of the solutions", he says
Installing a solar project is a large investment, but it will pays back in the end. "Our project will payback itself in 5 to 7 years. A grower can keep the plant working for more than 30 years, so after 5 years, the solar panels will deliver free electricity. And the grower will save about 30% on the kplc bill and consequently also saves on the genset consumption. The consumption of fuel will decrease too, about 70%., which makes more efficient than a fuel project."
From scratch to management project
Urbasolar conducts all the life steps of the project. "We start from scratch and do everything from land search, technical studies, obtaining the permits, raise the financing (either with an investment supported by Urbasolar, or by the client at his choice), EPC construction till the management of the project when it is in operation including the performance guarantees. All the consumption information is available on the internet for the farmer, but also to us. At our office in France, we have a supervision centre from which we monitor and optimize all the production parameters in real time. If the production is not as good as it should be, then we send someone to the farm to check the problem and fix it. In this way, we keep the production of the plant as high as possible." We also have our own modules factories in France.
Urbasolar offers various types of systems: rooftops on industrial or commercial buildings, carports, solar greenhouses, ground mounted plants (fixed structure or with a tracking system). "Regarding greenhouses, we have developed a variety of designs, with a primary focus on the agronomic performance of the greenhouse. We have for example greenhouses with mobile PV rooftops (kind of trackers on top of the greenhouse), that enable to increase the light and therefore the yield inside the greenhouse, while ensuring the best "solar harvest" too."
Red Lands Roses
Red Lands Roses was established in 1996 in Ruiru, 35km Northeast of Nairobi, Kenya, in the high lands on the equator. They specialize in growing and exporting T-Hybrid and spray roses of the highest quality in a range of over 100 varieties. The roses are grown in 28 hectares of greenhouses on a 100% hydroponic system with full recycling of water, preventing rejection of phosphates and nitrates in ground water. Green labels have been awarded by several organisations such as MPS-A (Highest grade for environment care), KFC (Kenya Flower Council, Silver grade), FFP (Fair Flowers Fair Plants, label for the efficiency of the tracking system), GLOBAL-GAP (Good Agricultural Practice). "These organisations perform audits regularly and Red Lands Roses keeps implementing the best practices for a better world."
For more information
Red Lands Roses
Isabelle Henin Spindler
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