Govt Moves to Thwart Massive Switch to Solar Energy

File image of Kenya Power electricians at work
File image of Kenya Power electricians at work

Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority  (EPRA) on Monday, November 30, issued a statement in response to claims that it was in the process of implementing new measures to curtail the mass adoption of solar energy across the country.

"Our attention has been drawn to the ongoing public discourse on the draft energy (Solar Photovoltaic Systems) Regulations 2020.

"The ensuing debate is centered on proposed licensee fees, penalties, educational and professional qualifications of proposed licensee clusters, contained in the Draft Regulations. EPRA wishes to state that the proposed laws are a revision of the Energy (Solar Photovoltaic Systems) Regulations 2012 and the laws aim to consolidate and improve in existing gains.

"The Authority will hold a public hearing on the proposed regulations on Friday, December 11, 2020, with a view to receiving further comments on the regulations from the public. The comments received in this public hearing will be taken into account in the final regulations," the statement reads in part.

The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) has issued draft recommendations which will introduce strict rules that will slow down the massive switch to solar energy

EPRA stated that the Draft Energy (Solar Photovoltaic Systems) Regulations 2020 was raised to streamline the manufacture, importation, distribution, design, installation, testing, commissioning, maintenance and repair of solar systems in Kenya. 

The regulations came a few days after Kenya Power admitted to facing challenges in power distribution as its largest consumer (industries) opted for solar energy. 

"Self-regulation can therefore be realized if all the players can agree to some code of practice which will ensure that only quality solar PV components and systems are imported, retailed and installed," EPRA stated. 

President Uhuru Kenyatta launches Garissa Power Plant in Garissa County on Friday, December 13, 2019

A solar technician is required to pay between Ksh 2,250 and Ksh 6,000 to obtain and renew a license. A contractor would pay between Ksh 3,000 and Ksh 6,000 for a license. 

The licenses will be valid for three years before renewal and an individual has to apply for renewal one month before the license expires. 

The technicians and contractors would be required to obtain insurance policies for their licenses which range from Ksh 1 million to Ksh 10 million according to their respective license class. The license will be issued before they install, commission or repair solar systems. 

Penalties will be effected for failure to renew licenses. Practicing with an expired license will attract a penalty of Ksh 50,000 per day. 

The stringent proposed regulation, which also includes a Ksh 10,000 fine if they delay renewing their license and Ksh 20,000 if they do not issue a completion certificate for a project or warranty for installation, is likely to slow down the uptake of solar energy solutions.

Additionally, penalties on failure to provide data to EPRA or providing false data will range between Ksh 5,000 and Ksh 1 million. 

Licenses are based on the capacity of the system to be installed. License classes SPW1, SPW2 and SPW3 are for solar systems with a capacity of not more than 400 watts, 2kW and 50kW respectively. Only SPW4 technicians will be allowed to install solar grids of any capacity. 

EPRA also set up education qualifications for all technicians. SPW1 contractors must have completed primary school and have sat the KCPE exams. SPW2 must have sat the KCSE exams, have a certificate in Electrical and Electronics.

Those with a Bachelor's degree or Higher Diploma in Electrical Engineering will also be allowed to operate under SPW2 category. 

Women drying vegetables with a solar drier on October 1, 2018.
Women drying vegetables with a solar drier on October 1, 2018.