Kenya embraces Solar LED Street- lighting through partnership with Philips
The United Nations Environment Programme has lauded a project in which Kenya has partnered with electronics company Philips to begin a multi- million shilling development initiative to light up Nairobi streets with renewable solar energy.
According to a press release by UNEP, Solar-powered LED, the most efficient lighting technology, can save up to 100 per cent of energy compared to conventional lighting solutions.
The pilot project is the first of its kind in the entire East African region and was launched on Friday 6th during the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of UNEP- whose headquarters is based in Nairobi.
“The past four decades have witnessed enormous innovation much of which is now commercial or becoming commercially cost-effective; energy efficient lighting systems being a case in point,” said Achim Steiner, the UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director.
Mr. Steiner added that UNEP was proud to be partnering with the government, the private sector and civil society to demonstrate that a transition to an inclusive Green Economy is happening and do-able in both developing and developed countries.
In Kenya, it is being witnessed through public policies that are triggering a surge in renewable energy in Turkana and Naivasha to the energy efficient, solar-powered new offices of the UN at Gigiri.
Steiner made the comments during the project’s announcement. The commencement of the project involved the installation of the Solar-powered LED lighting on UN Avenue, Gigiri where KURA has recently built two-way cycling lanes and dedicated pedestrian walkways.
Engineer Joseph N. Nkadayo, the Director General of the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) was also present during the announcement.
Mr. Nkadayo expressed confidence that lighting up the streets will not only provide security to residents and workers but will also enable the country to expedite the process of transforming its economy into a 24 hour one.
“Many unfound fears are reared by grey and dark corners on the streets. Many productive hours in Africa are wasted because of the fear of darkness or darkness itself. We need to overcome this fear by installing sustainable sources of power,” said Eng. Nkadayo.
“A new generation of Solar powered LED road and area lighting has the potential to transform life throughout Africa at a social and economic level,” said Andre Dehmel, Philips lighting General Manager for Africa.
By inventing the lighting solution, Philips has in effect solved the problem of unreliable power supply on Kenya’s grid, a detrimental aspect shared by many an ailing African economies.
How it all works:
According to the press release by UNEP, the key to the breakthrough lies in the combination of new High Brightness LEDs with unique patented optics and an intelligent controller which lies at the heart of the solution.
This ensures that the maximum amount of power is transferred from the solar panels to the batteries (30 per cent more efficient than traditional charge controllers.) It also ensures that the charging and discharging of the battery happens in a smart way so as to maximize battery life and it can dim the light levels when required based on a self learning intelligence and a history log.
According to the UN report, studies demonstrate that a total of five per cent of global electricity consumption could be preserved every year through a transition to efficient lighting, resulting in annual worldwide savings of over US $110 billion.
The project dubbed the en.lighten Global Efficient Lighting Partnership Programme is already being undertaken in 20 different African countries and also in many other countries from around the world.