Wednesday, April 5, 2023

The Official Commissioning of the Solar Rooftop Project was held on Tuesday, 4th April 2023 at Chiromo Campus. The solar lighting project will provide a reliable, affordable, and sustainable power supply at the Faculty of Science & Technology. The lack of access to electricity poses major constraints on modern economic activities at the University, partnerships with industry, provision of public services, adoption of new technologies and the quality of student life.

The University of Nairobi therefore undertook to partner with China State Grid and LONGi Solar Africa (world leading solar technology company) to design the Chiromo Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic System to supply the energy needs of the Faculty of Science and Technology.

The main purpose of this pilot project is to develop a prediction method for the use of solar energy for running University programs and for commercial purposes.

The momentous occasion was graced by Mr. Zhang Yijun- Minister Counsellor, Chinese Embassy who started by acknowledging University of Nairobi as the best institution in the East African region.  He noted affordable and clean energy has been listed among Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations (UN) since 2015 and enhancing international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy, research and technology plays an important role in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The minister also noted Kenya has a huge endowment of solar energy. He urged the University to make good use and be conscientious in the management and protection of the rooftop solar facilities so as to provide high-quality service for many years to the UoN community. The project will also serve as a witness of China-Kenya friendship. He concluded by urging the University to invest in clean energy.  ‘’Investment in energy infrastructure and independence is vital to the economic growth of the University of Nairobi .The rooftop solar power lighting will not only brighten the campus here, but also illuminate the dreams of all students at such a beautiful campus!’’.

The Vice Chancellor Prof. Kiama noted on the need to develop a complete ecosystem of value chain on the issue of harvesting energy. He also said it is the right time to also think in the direction of harvesting water from the air because with energy we have moved to such directions. He concluded by noting the University has been working closely with the Chinese Government and the University has benefited from the support in projects like Confucius Institute and the Chinese Ambassador Scholarships given every year to support the needy students.

Dr. Zhang Zhiang- Regional Manager, State Grid noted it was an honor to be part of the donor and implementer to design and install the solar energy system at Chiromo. He said, ‘’This initiative has been a collaborative effort between China State Grid, LONGi Solar Africa and the University of Nairobi who have worked tirelessly to make this project become a reality. This project is not just about clean energy it is a demonstration to inspire the students that the science and technology they are learning today can lead to concrete results tomorrow’’. The solar system consists of high quality panels that can produce electricity from the sun energy and can be monitored real time on mobile devices. By harnessing this renewable energy the university can significantly reduce the carbon footprints

Mr. Ryang Wang- General Manager, LONGi Solar Africa acknowledged Africa has the best sunlight resources and LONGi  Solar realized energy transformation is extremely urgent and universities is a good place to start to  provide the expertise to the students who are interested in renewable energy. ‘’We are bridging the gap to access and to provide light, clean, sustainable and affordable energy to all’’. He said

The Dean, Prof. Kerubo noted The Faculty was reaping the first fruits of an existing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the University of Nairobi and LONGi Solar Africa.

A donation of 20kW Rooftop Solar Power System has been installed on the roof of the Department of Biochemistry. She further noted the faculty has extended the conversation with LONGi Solar Africa, to expand the installation to the other seven departments at the Faculty.

The Rooftop Solar project at Chiromo will offer, among other benefits:

Capacity building on solar energy by offering training opportunities for both undergraduate, postgraduate students and technologists through the Faculty’s Solar Academy program;

The project will allow UoN to test the extent to which the Rooftop Solarization concept is useful in understanding and conceptualising how lighting the University can transform the solar market in Kenya;

The project will presents an opportunity to carry out analysis of energy needs that the University may not be aware of; and

The project will enable the University to know which approach it should undertake in providing a framework for future policy interventions aiming to transform access to clean energy technologies.