Nairobi — SunFunder, a United States-based solar energy Fund has set up a Sh120 million facility for Questworks, a Kenyan real estate firm to boost its pipeline of commercial and industrial solar projects as the demand for green energy increases in the country.
SunFunder's working capital debt facility offered to Questworks, famed for Presidential Green Building Award in 2012, the Private Sector Renewable Energy Award in 2015 and most recently the Special Projects Delivery Award in 2018, will finance construction of more solar projects in Nairobi.
While commenting on the funding, Questworks Co-Founder and Chief Financial Officer Tim Kipchumba noted that the demand for debt financing from end users is surging. By adding solar to offset grid power and backup diesel generation, end users such as universities, offices and hospitals will be able to cut costs, contribute to a greener economy and improve the reliability of their energy supply.
"We are very happy to have secured this SunFunder support which will enable us to execute on our growing solar pipeline, and we believe there is also an exciting opportunity to enable the Kenyan economy thrive on reduced cost of energy," said Kipchumba.
On her part, SunFunder Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer Audrey Desiderato noted that the economics of solar offer compelling business cases for grid-tied as well as off-grid commercial and Industrial solar installations. She added that the key bottleneck for commercial end-users is often debt financing and Questworks has introduced leasing options in order to address the growing demand for solar.
"During our due diligence we were highly impressed by Questworks' in-house technical team and the diversity of skills that make them a one-stop shop for end users and real estate developers wanting to build solar PV systems," said Desiderato.
Questworks is among Nairobi's earliest renewable energy engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies and has built a significant track record over the past five years, building more than 2 MW of solar projects.
The company completed Nairobi's first solar project in 2014 by signing a Power Purchase Agreement, the 600kW hybrid system at Strathmore University.
Questworks Director Renewable Energy Philip Mwangi noted that the company will soon commission a commercial and industrial solar installation with Kenya School of Monetary Studies.
"We are excited at the prospects of cost savings for our private and public sector clients. We are currently commissioning the first phase of the largest public sector C&I Solar Project at Kenya School of Monetary Studies in June 2018," said Mwangi.
According to Power Africa, Kenya could have 5,040 MW of installed capacity by 2020, representing ~2,700 MW of new generation capacity coming online in 42 new plants between 2015-2020. They project Kenya's energy mix being 83 per cent renewable by 2020, with solar will playing an increasingly important role as well, growing from 0 MW currently to 430 MW by then. Moreover, many of the 19 off-grid diesel stations will likely be converted to solar-diesel hybrids.