Unilever Tea recently signed an agreement with Cross-Boundary Energy for the installation and operation of a 600kW solar power plant at the company’s Kericho tea plantation in Kenya.
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 the company 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.
Managing Director Nicholaos Yiannakis said this deal will help the company achieve Unilever’s sustainable living plan that aims to source 100% 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 100% renewable energy by 2030,” said Yiannakis.
The tea company claims that over 90% of the energy used in the factory already comes from renewable sources.
Hydroelectric power turbines provide around 70% of electricity and have been in use for nearly 100 years at the Kericho plantation.
Domestic off-grid systems
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.
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.