SolarQuarter Africa magazine had an exclusive chat with Jenny Fletcher – CEO, Ariya Finergy, and understood about the company’s offerings and recent successful contributions to the region. She also spoke about the company’s growth and expansion plans and the solar sector’s future outlook.
Please brief our readers about Ariya Finergy’s presence and offering in the region? What is unique about the services provided by your company?
Ariya Finergy (Ariya) is an industry leader in designing, constructing, and financing solar PV, storage, and power quality systems for
commercial and industrial (C&I) clients in East Africa. We provide a seamless end-to-end service from initial project development and design through to the operations and maintenance of all the systems. Based in Nairobi, Ariya’s portfolio includes 12 MW of solar PV across 38 systems, the commissioned systems have to date generated over 7 GWhr of solar electricity in East Africa displacing 4,210 tonnes of CO2.
Ariya prides itself on being our clients’ Power Partner, consistently delivering innovative solutions above and beyond traditional solar PV systems. Below are two attributes that make Ariya unique:
- Power stabilization solutions – Integrating solar, the grid, generators, and batteries to provide seamless high-quality power to our clients.
- The ability to provide power stabilization solutions for both small and large power users is made possible because of our in-house research and development team that manages the controllers to ensure consistent and reliable dispatch and control of the various power sources.
- We are commissioning a new power stabilization solution later this month that will provide our client 650kVA backup power solution that can operate for up to 6 hours during the daytime. We are excited about this technology and ready to offer it to many large industrial clients as a way for them to boost productivity, and decrease product losses and material waste which occur during power outages.
- Effectively integrating solar power into the power stabilization solution translates to reduced energy costs and an increase in the backup power duration.
- 2. Dedicated Operations and Maintenance team
Service is a core value of the company; accordingly, we have created a dedicated operations and maintenance team that focuses exclusively on ensuring high levels of uptime and fast troubleshooting responses for all our clients.
What do you think about the solar sector in Kenya? In your view, what is needed to strengthen the growth of the solar sector in the Country?
The Kenyan market for solar has really evolved over the last few years, there exists healthy competition among the other solar providers in the country. Power costs remain higher here in Kenya than in neighboring countries like Uganda and Tanzania; therefore, the adoption of solar remains high as a way of reducing operating costs for large industrial clients. From an Ariya perspective, to truly maximize the impact of solar energy innovations in Kenya, we are seeking support from institutions that can provide capital for our team to continue research and design new solutions that integrate with solar but also go beyond just solar to bring clean power to the market. Lastly, continued support from the government like the reinstatement of VAT exemptions on renewable energy products has certainly helped make the investment in solar more tangible.
A few words on your company’s recent successful contributions to this industry. What has been your biggest challenge so far?
In addition to the abovementioned power stabilization solution, we are proud to commission our first solar thermal project using concentrated parabolic mirrors to create 160°C and 4bar steam for a power plant here in Nairobi. We continue to make great strides in expanding our client base; earlier this year, we commissioned our first system outside of Kenya for a large plastics manufacturer located in Kampala, Uganda. We are in the process of building the second system and combined, the two systems will total 2.2MWp.
Shipping and logistics challenges persist which will likely continue throughout 2022. As we continue to innovate and bring new solutions to the market, I believe one of our biggest challenges will be to bring the right level of awareness to the different markets and prove to our potential clients that these solutions are cost-effective investments that will provide returns for many years to come. We are ready to tackle this challenge!
How do you see your company contributing to the clean energy sector in Africa in the next couple of years? What are your plans for expanding your services in the region?
We want to be Africa’s Power Partner and bring our innovative power stabilization solution to commercial and industrial clients across Africa. The instability of national grids and constant spike/sags in voltage results in large operational losses due to increased reliance on running generators (high diesel costs), high product losses, greater costs on annual motor maintenance, and adverse costs related to productivity losses/downtime of the workforce during power outages. With the savings provided by correcting the power challenges, we envision companies being able to expand their operations which in turn has a profound on local communities by providing greater access to jobs. Looking to build on the momentum of our expansion into Uganda, we are actively building out our world-class team to allow us to pursue opportunities in Tanzania, Zambia, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and beyond.
Finally, what is your outlook for the Solar sector in the region by 2025?
2025 seems so far away, but it will be here in the blink of an eye! I remain very optimistic that the continued adoption of solar for larger power consumers will trend upwards across East Africa as more and more people realize the economic and environmental benefits of solar energy. My hope is that the cost of batteries will come down in the next 1-2 years which will allow us to offer competitive storage solutions to our clients as a means of furthering the value of solar PV systems. Lastly, my goal is to have Ariya as a leading force in the push for solar adoption across the region and serve as a model that can be effectively deployed across the whole of Africa.