Assessment of the Viability of Standalone Photovoltaic Systems for Rural Households in Kathiani, Machakos County, Kenya (Pages: 1-9)

B.O. Odhiambo1, D.W. Wekesa2, C.O. Saoke3 and J.N Kamau3

1Institute of Energy and Environmental Technology, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Nairobi, Kenya; 2Department of Physics, Multimedia University of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya; 3Department of Physics, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Nairobi, Kenya





Abstract: Access to reliable electricity is still a challenge in Kenya, especially among rural populations. Photovoltaic technology is seen as one of the best alternatives in the provision of quality and affordable electricity. This research aimed at assessing the solar radiation potential of Kathiani, Machakos County in Kenya with regards to the solar hours and how such radiation can be converted to usable energy. It involved the analysis of average daily, monthly, and annual solar radiation data for the region by use of PVGIS software. In the study, a survey to determine the energy requirements of the area for effective sizing as per the consumers’ needs is carried out, by use of questionnaires, interviews and observation. PV system sizing of a household is performed to ensure each component of the system meets load requirements. In addition, the research involved an economic analysis of adopting standalone solar energy technology as an alternative to grid connected electricity. This was achieved by analyzing the life cycle cost of the system to come up with the unit cost. The study findings revealed that Kathiani region in Machakos, county Kenya receives adequate average daily solar insolation of 5.42 kWh/m2, which has the potential of producing annual PV energy of 1521 kWh. This implies that the region is economically viable for harnessing electricity through standalone solar PV systems.

Keywords: Solar insolation, Stand-alone PV, Energy Demand, Life Cycle Cost (LCC) Analysis, Unit costs.