Energy regulation spurs uptake of solar water heating equipment in Kenya

solar panels

NAIROBI – The Energy Regulatory Commission’s regulations requiring that installation of solar water heating systems in all residential and commercial premises, as an economically viable alternative to hydro power, is seeing solar power companies record impressive uptake, with Davis and Shirtliff, one such supplier, recording a considerable increase in sales since the regulation was gazetted last year.


This is as reports show that the residential sector in Kenya uses up to 850 Gigawatt per hour of electricity annually to heat water causing a strain on traditional power sources.

According to the Energy (Solar Water Heating) Regulations 2012 which was enforced as an exercise of power conferred in the Energy Act (No.16 of 2006), all premises within the jurisdiction of a local authority with hot water requirements of a capacity exceeding 100 liters per day shall install and use solar heating systems.

This regulation therefore seeks to ensure that in 5 years (by January, 2017) from its initial enforcement all premises as described in the regulation will have installed and will be using solar water heating systems. Failure to adhere to this regulation is considered an offense and on conviction one is liable to excessive penalties.

UN reports on global energy demands states that renewable energy sources such as solar power, wind, biomass and hydro power could meet nearly 80 per cent of the world’s energy supplies by 2050 if governments pursue policies that harness their potential.

Hence, the energy regulation in Kenya could not have been enforced at a better time and for a greater cause.

Solar water heating is an important application of the various renewable energy technologies that utilizes energy from the sun to heat water through a collector and a tank that stores the heated water.

This technology is very effective as it uses free solar energy to produce abundant hot water throughout the day.

“Seeing that the sun is free, you’re protected from future fuel shortages and price hikes that are characterized with the reliance on electricity,” noted Mr David Gatende, Deputy CEO of Davis and Shirtliff Group.

Following the directive, property developers and individual home builders have been urged to incorporate the installation of a solar water heating system in their architectural plans so as to evade the penalties resulting from contravening the regulation. This is also to avoid a further stipulation of the regulation that states that Kenya Power and Lighting Company shall not connect electricity supply to new buildings without solar water heating systems.

Speaking at a Property Developer’s Seminar held at the Davis and Shirtliff headquarters in Industrial Area, Norman Chege, Solar Manager, said that the increased uptake of solar products has been due to increased awareness and interest on the products.

“There has been increased awareness and interest in the solar hot water demand. We have seen an increase of almost 100 percent on the solar hot water sales in the last one year since the new solar hot water regulations were gazetted,” said Mr. Chege.

Davis and Shirtliff is a long established participant in the solar industry and supplies a wide range of quality solar products including solar water pumps, solar pv systems and controllers, solar lighting equipment including street lights and of course solar hot water systems.

“We have been incorporating Davis and Shirtliff solar water heating systems in our developments and we are happy with the service that the products are offering,” asserted Engineer Charles Kariuki, the Country Head of Maintenance at Knight Frank Kenya.

The use of solar water heating systems have many benefits including substantial energy cost savings with payback of less than 2 years, low maintenance costs and long life of over 10 years.

“Using solar water heating systems cuts down on your electricity bill by about 60 percent and reduces carbon emissions by 50 percent, thus offering huge environmental benefits as well as energy saving gains,” said Mr. Chege who was a facilitator at the Developer’s luncheon that also served as a training on the other products that Davis and Shirtliff has to offer.

“The incorporation of solar water heating systems will have a small impact on the initial cost of properties but the long term benefits are considerable in comparison as it will be cheaper to install at the building stage than later,” stated Mr. Kariuki of Knight Frank.

Mr. Gichuhi of Chase Apartments Ltd, who was one of the property developer’s that attended the luncheon added:
“We are very pleased with this training and we have learnt much that we did not know. We encourage Davis and Shirtliff to carry out more of these trainings for its clients as they are very beneficial.”

Davis and Shirtliff Limited is a Kenyan multinational, operating through a network of Kenyan branches and regional subsidiaries in Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Rwanda, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi and DRC.
Founded in Kenya in 1946, it is the leading supplier of water related and alternative energy equipment in East Africa.

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