Market gap spurs business niche in energy
After a year of research and being trained on solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies at the Strathmore Energy Research Centre, Kevin and Evan set out to establish a 100% local company to implement, rectify and set standards in Solar PV in Sub-Saharan Africa. Driven by the SDG 7; Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, Equatorial Energies main agenda is to realize this goal by using solar photovoltaic technologies.
Equatorial Energies is an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) company in Kenya offering turnkey solar solutions. Their systems vary depending on the client needs, energy consumption patterns and their capacities. Among the common systems they offer are PV Grid tied solar system, PV diesel hybrid and PV storage hybrid.
PV Grid tied solar system: When a client has high electricity consumption during the day, this system is recommended. It consists of Solar PV panels, grid tied inverters and a balance of system components. Energy generated is directly consumed by the client and excess power is down regulated. If power generation is less than consumption, the difference is obtained from the grid (KPLC).
PV-diesel hybrid: When their clients are running diesel generators as prime power or have unreliable electricity grid, they couple a grid tied system with the diesel generator and install additional controllers to ensure power is not fed back to the generators and the generators run at an optimum set point increasing their lifetime. Fuel consumption during the day can be reduced to up to 60%.
PV storage hybrid: If a client is not connected to the electricity grid or they are in a place with a very poor grid, they propose installation of a solar PV, batteries for storage and an additional source of electricity (grid, diesel generator or/and wind turbine) and design the system to have least cost of electricity as well as lowest carbon emissions.
Mitigating climate change for EQ is based on addressing two main points: the energy path and the energy efficiency. The first is on the energy path. By providing solar we create the opportunity to reduce the power consumption from fossil fuels thus reducing the emissions and creating a simplistic method of energy generation. EQ’s energy path ensures that the sourcing for the “fuel” is not harmful to the environment; the planet-wide impact is reiterated in equivalence of carbon emissions saved per kWh of solar energy produced.
Secondly in addressing energy efficiency putting into consideration how well the energy being produced is consumed is vital to combating climate change challenges. Their key advisory service in the development of captive solar plants is to encourage client awareness in terms of usage and the effect of it all.
Their existing partnerships are with EPC’s, equipment providers, development entities such as Thriive, KCIC and Academia. Their goal is to implement 200MW in the next decade and to implement EQ energy management systems for the CNI market.
The Kenya Climate Innovation Centre (KCIC) partnership started in 2017 when Equatorial Energies qualified for the Climate Launch Pad competition hosted by KCIC. They are in the incubation programme to help them grow and develop their businesses.
The two founders Kevin Gaitho (has a background in business and IT from Strathmore University, while Evan Kimani (nicknamed The Hybrid Master) has a background in engineering from Dedan Kimathi University of Technology. The company is currently working on being the leading EPC in Sub-Saharan Africa.
By Michelle Mung’ata