County Government Taps Sustainable Solar Energy

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Laikipia is poised to reap the gains of the renewable solar energy as a cost effective alternative to meet its growing energy needs.
Focus is now shifting to lighting the urban centres with the clean energy. This is after the government made successful exploits in harnessing solar power to deliver water to thousands of residents who depend on water from boreholes.
Significant strides have been made in the recent past to equip new and existing boreholes with solar powered pumps. This has made availability of constant water a reality for many communities whose ways of life have been dictated by the availability.
Solar power is a welcome change for residents who have endured years labourious manual water pumping.
The social economic transformation is evident as a result, as more pastoral communities now lead a more settled life. Community hygiene is also poised to improve.
Laikipia County is pushing the limits on the solar energy exploitation front of the solar energy even further. The county is leveraging on its strategic position on the equator to tap into the abundant energy source to light up the streets and markets.
Currently, test runs for the newly installed solar powered street lights are ongoing in various towns. The success of this innovative programme means a bright for the taxpayer, going by its affordability.
The new project will replace the exorbitant installation operation costs of the high mast flood lighting currently in use.
Residents of Mutanga, Rumuruti, Nyahururu and Nanyuki are some of the proud beneficiaries of brighter streets and markets as the government rolls out the installation. The installation of the first 216 solar light poles across the county has commenced and is set to be completed by end of August this year.
According to Chief Officer for Administration Charles Muiruri, it costs an average of Ksh. 220 to 250 thousand to put up one complete solar lighting pole. This is a significant reduction compared to 3.4 million shillings to install a single high mast light system. Add the operation costs, which is 10,000 shillings for a single mast per month in electricity bills, and the cost benefits realized become even more dis-tinct.
In rough estimates, it means the cost of putting up a single high mast lighting installation is enough to cater for the installation of 14 complete solar powered light poles. The lowered operational cost is a step in the right direction on lighting up vast socio-economic spaces. It comes with additional advantages of reliability, and is free from the frequent interruptions that are a result of burnouts caused by power surges.
The electricity powered high mast flood lights have proven to be untenable. The high installation operational costs notwithstanding, the cost of repairs is proving to be more of an uphill task.
For instance, Olmoran trading centre has remained in the dark in the recent past after a power surge blew out the bulbs. Efforts to restore the installation suffered a major setback after the crane failed to reach the top of the 30 metre high mast, bringing the 200,000 shillings restoration operation to a halt.

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