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    WACHIRA: EVs and off-grid solar technologies present new business opportunities

    March 31, 2023 - Business Daily


       In the next five years, I foresee a rapid uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) and off-grid solar technologies with many SME business opportunities emerging.These are climate-compatible developments that will shift businesses from traditional petroleum and power companies.

      For both EVs and off-grid solar applications, enormous research and investments are ongoing to increase battery energy storage density to permit longer hours of usage, while reducing unit costs to allow the growth of a critical mass of users.Nearly every global vehicle manufacturing company is shifting to electric vehicles, in effect putting a brake on future production of petrol/diesel-driven vehicles.

      In Kenya, an EV entry has already been made, with electric bodas and municipal buses coming with different business models centred on battery charging locations in place of fuel stations.Eventually, charging points will be on highways, in parking areas, in rural markets, and in homes.

      And this is the opportunity that off-grid solar investors can seize to provide cheaper vehicle charging energy coming straight from the sun.This will, of course, be in competition with grid power companies which are already planning to invest in vehicle chargingThe just-ended drought had left my Mathira Constituency without water for domestic and animal use.

      A neighbour who is a solar entrepreneur rescued the situation by digging a borehole and using a solar pumping system he supplied metered piped water to the neighbourhood.I am now encouraged to instal a similar solar system on my farm and forego the use of the expensive three-phase power supply which I had just connected.

      Off-grid solar and boreholes will be an essential future water supply solution, especially in rural Kenya. Going forward, the energy regulator should facilitate off-grid solar power entrepreneurs to retail their surplus power in neighbourhoods.

      They should also be helped to enter the vehicle charging business, especially bodas, in remote rural areas.Considering that stand-by petrol/diesel power generators will gradually be phased out, investments in stand-by solar-powered batteries should be facilitated.

      EVs and mini off-grid solar apps will be a fast-evolving technology that will require new skills, and these should be planned for in various TVETs around the country.Further, I believe counties should be proactive in sponsoring emerging green energy technologies that can add value to the counties.

      They should participate in planning for the installation of EV charging points in their cities, towns and markets. The global dollar is ready to fund projects defined as green.


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