Greenstorc Microgrid Harnesses People Power In Kenya

Paul Flynn at Nairobi UN HQ

Greenstorc Microgrid Harnesses People Power In Kenya

Greenstorc will launch in Kenya with twin projects – a 100kW plant in Merti, 520 kilometres from Nairobi, and a 25kW demonstrator project at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.

We’ve also opened talks with the United Nations to expand our Merti project into a three-way sustainable venture involving Greenstorc, the UN and the local Merti community.

This was driven by a chance meeting with a dedicated Merti policeman called Wafula. Fortunately for his fellows, he has the vision to see how the area’s degraded landscape can be restored – along with the passion and tenacity to make it happen.

Having exhausted official avenues, Wafula refused to give up. When he sat down and explained his plan to us during our recent visit, we were amazed by its scope. We also determined to find a way to realise his environmental vision with our technology.

United Nations support

Back in Nairobi, we spoke to Souleymane Diawara from the UN’s Human Settlements Program about the possibility of rolling out a three-way project in Merti.

Fortunately, the UN is keen to assist in Merti’s restoration. This could potentially take the form of a social impact study involving Merti residents.

Under this plan:

  • Greenstorc would supply local green energy and education
  • The UN would assist with infrastructure, funds and expertise
  • Merti residents would receive the knowledge and tools they need to help restore and manage their environment through sustainable practices.

Merti, in Isiolo County, is certainly facing major problems. Sited in the foothills, its wet and fertile soil has been degraded over time by a combination of deforestation and goat herding, which prevents new tree growth. Yet that once-rich soil can be reclaimed as a community asset – if residents can only be shown better ways to farm and care for their land.

Within a decade, the woodlands could return. Enriched soil would once again accumulate. Then crops will grow as erosion and waste disappear. And zero emissions energy can then help maintain the natural environment as a healthy, productive and protected asset.

Greenstorc scientist and Kenya project coordinator Dario Broich says: “This project has huge potential to change the lives of Merti residents by restoring the environment through smarter agricultural practice – and, of course, access to 24-hour, zero emissions energy for members of this remote community.”

The power of microgrids

Merti is remote. Getting there involves a 14-hour drive from Nairobi, with eight hours of off-road travel. Its population of 6,500 and currently is served by a 300kW diesel-powered generator.

Greenstorc technology is ideal for these conditions. We can create clean, 24-hour energy where it is consumed – eliminating the need for polluting diesel, expensive batteries and heavy infrastructure.

Before work in Kenya begins, two 100kw plants are being deployed near our Sonsbeck manufacturing base in northern Germany. This will ensure optimum performance following a successful 25kw test at the same location.

Then our Merti installation will pave the way for a possible network of funded green microgrids stretching across Kenya. Each one also has the potential to be a genuine community venture celebrating sustainable growth, restoring the environment and promoting healthier lifestyles.

Micro-geothermal technology

Kenya’s sheer size makes it expensive to deliver utility-scale power generation to the grid. Hundreds of communities are scattered in areas the energy grid won’t reach for decades.

Greenstorc fills this void because our technology works on a micro scale and can be deployed in areas that need it most. We call it micro-geothermal for two reasons:

  • We access ground heat from shallow depths – 50-200 metres deep, rather than kilometres underground.
  • Our system is viable from 100kW – compared to a minimum of 10MW for traditional deep geothermal and 20MW for commercial wind power installations.

Our solution generates zero emissions, 24-hour electricity at affordable prices and is scalable to meet energy demands for communities of any size. No batteries are required.

This is a game-changer for Africa and other emerging economies.

Kenya Vision 2030, the nation’s long-term development blueprint, calls for new private generators and sources of power, including renewable geothermal energy.

Greenstorc team in Kenya with UN rep
From left: Mukiri Muchene, Dario Broich, Julius Kabubi (UN Office Nairobi, Disaster Risk Reduction) and Paul Flynn on the ground in Kenya.

Economic benefits

Demand on the Kenyan national grid is enormous. So is electricity pricing. Forced to rely on dirty diesel power generation, some of the poorest people in the world routinely pay $US4 per kWh. And despite the high prices, reliability remains a pipedream.

Compare that with $US0.08 in the Netherlands or £0.15 for the same thing if you live in London, where reliability is guaranteed.

Speaking at a United Nations Sustainable Development Goals panel, Paul Flynn explained that Greenstorc microgrid technology can deliver clean, constant energy in Kenya for less than 10 US cents per kWh.

He says: “We are not a charity. We are operating on a profitability model. This gives us the speed and flexibility of a for-profit organisation to find projects that make sense, that are sustainable, economical and ongoing.”

Building microgrids to power small communities in remote locations:

  • Frees up money to spend on children’s education
  • Increases access to health services
  • Improves connectivity and access to technology
  • Stimulates local water, sanitation and agriculture projects
  • Kick-starts local business and enterprise
  • Boosts the local economy
Merti diesel power generators
Merti is powered by dirty, expensive and polluting diesel generators.

Why Africa?

Partly because Greenstorc CEO Paul Flynn’s mother is from Uganda.

Mr Flynn promised his grandmother he would do his utmost to bring clean, affordable energy to Africa.

But it’s not just personal, it’s visionary too. As a privately-funded power generation company, Greenstorc embraces profit on one hand and social impact on the other.

We can focus 100% on producing clean energy, reducing costs and boosting economic opportunities in places overlooked by traditional power utilities seeking large-scale returns to shareholders.

We’re therefore keen to work with the United Nations to ensure our Merti plant becomes a true community asset, helping local people live, work and play in a safer, cleaner, more prosperous environment.