The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has sponsored a Community Power Center in the Kenyan village of Kibae on the slopes of Mount Kenya some 150 kilometers from Nairobi.
Only ten percent of Kenya’s rural population has access to electricity, and many communities like Kibae have begun to look at local hydro and solar resources as a means to develop a clean and low-cost form of power.
Through a partnership with the Kenyan Government and the community, UNIDO has built an energy kiosk, which uses micro hydropower and solar photovoltaics to produce approximately three kilowatts of electricity. The solar unit produces 500W and the Pico-hydro unit consists of two 1KW hydro turbines. Currently, the energy kiosk serves 300 households and is expected to serve 500 households within a few months.The energy generated at the kiosk powers an industrial center with micro-enterprises like soap manufacturing and agriculture in addition to a community center. The community center is also distributing Light Emitting Diode (LED) lamps to replace kerosene lamps, which use costly fossil fuels and contribute to respiratory illnesses. A typical household has three kerosene lamps that consume at least 15 liters of kerosene per month at USD$1 per liter. Compare this to $.30 for the price of recharging one LED lamp, which need to be recharged once a week. Thus the average rural family will save about $12 per month on lighting with cleaner and better quality light from the LEDs.
At the community center, residents can charge mobile phones, LED lamps and computers for web browsing. The Kibae center is one of eight community power centers throughout Kenya, according to UNIDO. :: Via Kenya Environmental & Political News Weblog
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