Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) is now proud home of East Africa's first solar-powered cargo facility owned by Swissport Kenya Limited.
Swissport commissioned the project last week in partnership with Mettle Solar Ofgen and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), making it the region's first solar-powered cargo facility at the Nairobi airport, and the second in the continent after South Africa – whose George Airport was the first in Africa to be powered by solar energy.
The104kWp project is a lease partnership deal that will see its developer, Ofgen own and maintain the solar PV panels.
Swissport hopes to meet a third of the facility's energy demand and enhance use of renewables in the country.
The airport ground handling and cargo services firm, which was sold to Chinese conglomerate HNA Group for $2.8 billion (Sh290.4 billion) over a year ago, targets to cut down power bills by 30 per cent.
Speaking during the launch, Swissport Kenya chief operating, Rachael Ndegwa said the project will see the firm reduce power bills it currently pays at Sh2 million every month. The solar panels will power cold rooms at the cargo facility.
“Swiss port Kenya is committed to supporting development in Africa with new innovations and solutions. The solar power plant will contribute to a healthier environment and clients will enjoy cheaper solar electricity without substantial upfront capital investment,” she said.
Solar technology is fast becoming hallmarks of contemporary business efficiency for most businesses and modern buildings that have incorporated solar energy systems with an aim of reducing high costs of electricity.
Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) has also announced similar plans to incorporate solar power at terminals A, B, C and D whose redesign works are ongoing.
KAA managing director Johnny Andersen said the move is aimed at lowering high power costs while at the same time observing recent directive issued by Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) on the use of renewables.
Last month the commission issued a stern warning in a notice to owners of large residential and commercial buildings that are yet to install solar water heaters, saying it would begin enforcing compliance of Energy (Solar Water Heating) Regulations 2012 this month with those yet to comply risking a jail term and Sh1 million fine, when the grace period it provided last year ends.