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Desroches gets new 2.5MW PV solar farm

Published: 11 October 2021

A major sustainable milestone for Kenya’s tourism industry has recently been broken, putting Serena Hotels at the forefront of Kenya’s most sought-after lodges and resorts that offer an eco-experience with the aid of solar PV. Not one, but four solar PV projects have been deployed for the Serena Hotels’ Lodges, key players which brought the projects to life include Mettle Solar OFGEN who developed, funded and own the projects as well as Sustainable Power Solutions Kenya (SPS Kenya) who were the lead EPC and O&M provider on all the Serena Hotels’ solar PV power plants.

In celebratrion of successfully comissioning the Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge power plant, an official launch was held, with distinguished VIP guests from the ERC, Kenya’s Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, Serena Hotels, key players, the World Bank and GIZ as well as guests from across Africa and the media. The launch, was held at Serena’s Kilaguni Safari Lodge which is marked as Kenya’s first completely solar powered lodge.

Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge is situated in Tsavo West National Park and provides for the lodges’ entire power requirements and substantially enhances local environmental sustainability. Previously the lodge relied heavily on diesel gensets to run their day to day operations, with the addition of a 310 kWp and 670 kWh off-grid solar PV plant, the lodge is now able to save 175 000 litres of diesel annually. Managing Director of Serena Hotels, Mr. Mahmud Jan Mohamed, stated that, “the company continues to focus on innovative programs that respond to the needs of the environment, economy and communities within which it operates – the fundamental tenets of Sustainability”. He went onto say that, “the demand from eco-travellers is growing and Serena continues to adapt its business best practices model to meet the ecological travel experiences and expectations of today’s guest. The hotel sector is energy-intensive, and despite being remotely located in the park; we have successfully managed to use a clean-renewable source of energy to fully run the lodge operations.”

Kilaguni Safari Lodge’s solar plant is recognised as Kenya’s largest off-grid solar tracker and off-grid lead acid battery system. Serena Hotels received a Special Award in October 2018 for “Extraordinary Business Case and CSR”, at the official Global Best Practice Awards ceremony in Italy. The special award was received through Kilaguni Safari Lodge’s eco-friendly practices which provide professional textile care through sustainable and energy efficient laundry services which are powered through the solar power plant.

Francois Van Themaat, Managing Director of Mettle Solar OFGEN commented at the launch that “this is among one of our first projects in the hospitality industry. It is a big win for Kenya to get a ground-breaking project like this, up and running. This took the effort of our researchers, the engineers, suppliers and the Government of Kenya and we look forward to working with Serena Hotels for more ground-breaking projects.”

In addition to a set record by Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge, Serena Hotels’ Amboseli Safari Lodge has recently commissioned the very first Tesla battery bank in Kenya and the largest supplied battery system in East Africa. Axel Scholle, CEO and Founder of SPS Kenya says “this is an incredible achievement for Serena Hotels and the tourism industry at large, it takes one company to set forth a motion of change, and this is it – the move to off-grid is upon us, if we are to make a considerable difference to our carbon footprint as businesses, there is no better time than the present.” In addition, Axel noted that “as new technologies become readily available, and the demand increases, it drives down the price for off-grid solutions, making it a realistic option for businesses, however quality is always key to ensuring the longevity of a project.”

Sustainable operations are becoming a focal point for the tourism industry, considering their business model is based on conservation and climate change is making businesses vulnerable. Amboseli power plant, which has a 670 kWp plant capacity, 320 kVA and 1 260 kWh battery storage system will have a massive CO2 reduction of 620 tonnes annually! The huge reduction in diesel use has dramatically reduced Serena Hotels’ carbon footprint and offers guests a sustainable eco-option when it comes so accommodation while stead fasting Serena’s position as a leader in corporate responsibility.

Both Mettle Solar OFGEN and SPS Kenya have been busy in East Africa, in addition to the off-grid projects for the Serena Hotels portfolio, they have also implemented two 78 kWp hybrid systems for the Lake Elmenteita Serena Camp and Sweetwaters Serena Camp.

Combined, the capacity of both off-grid and hybrid systems total just over 1 MW and almost 2 MWh of battery storage capacity!