Powerhive Pilot II - 12
Rural electrification: An estimated 90% of Kenya’s Kisii Province does not have access to modern conventional power. Pic credit: Powerhive

Last week, California-based power technology venture Powerhive announced that its off-grid metering and control solutions division has completed two years of field testing in Kenya, East Africa.

With plans to expand its coverage to over 200,000 households in Kenya, Powerhive has leveraged four pilot projects to determine the effectiveness of micro-grid deployments in areas that do not have direct access to conventional electricity, such as Kisii Province where 90% of the  population live off grid.

The pilot deployments have generated a total of 80kW, which has provided electricity to 1,500 people across four rural villages.

The increase in power supply has enabled the community to begin entrepreneurial activities such as maize milling, welding, incubating chickens and hair styling, according to Powerhive,

Christopher Hornor, CEO of Powerhive, commented: “Powerhive’s technology and data-driven approach to micro-grid development and operations will enable the formation of a new asset class. It will enable us to cost-effectively reach tens of millions of people in rural villages unserved by grids while offering strong risk-weighted returns to investors.”

Solar photovoltaic partnership

The Berkley-based company received financial and technical support from solar photovoltaic (PV) energy company First Solar, enabling the technology venture to efficiently supply locally generated power to Kenya’s Kisii Province.

Powerhive said in a statement that through the pilot program, First Solar’s module technology was deployed with Powerhive’s metering and control platform.

Customers are able to pre-purchase electricity for commercial and residential use through mobile banking services.

Expanding electricity access

In 2013, the PV energy provider made an undisclosed investment into the Kenyan project and continues to contribute its expertise in scaling deployment, technology, and commercial development.

First Solar’s vice president for global marketing and a director on Powerhive’s board Marc van Gerven said: “With its innovative technology, Powerhive forms an important part of the local energy value chain – the metering and control of locally generated electricity – allowing us to move closer to our objective of delivering affordable, locally-generated energy on demand.”

Innovative designs

To ensure that the deployment of micro-grids in rural regions is effective, the Berkley-based company has designed various designs including:

  • The Honeycomb cloud-based remote monitoring and control platform
  • The Asali smart meter
  • The Site Wizard for Analysis, Reconnaissance, and Mapping (SWARM) project development tool