Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Thesis: Assessment of photovoltaic solar energy potential in Kenya


Accessibility to affordable and sustainable energy resources could have a major impact to the economies of developing countries and in the livelihoods of the citizens of those nations. Solar energy is one of the readily available renewable energy resources and especially to the countries which are located within the tropics. Kenya is one of the countries in the tropical region and receives an average of 6.5 sunshine hours in a single day throughout the year. The main reason for the slow adoption of solar energy resources in Kenya has been the general lack of information of the spatial variability of the characteristics of solar energy potential within the country. The second reason has been due to the high cost of solar energy technology and the lack of a comprehensive legal framework in support of investment in solar energy sector. 

The aim of this work was to assess the potential of solar energy in Kenya and particularly the potential of photovoltaic solar energy generation. The main factors that have an influence on the incident solar radiation that were considered in the study were atmospheric transmissivity and the nature of topography. The influence of atmospheric transmissivity was factored in by modelling monthly transmissivity factors from a combination of cloud cover, diffuse ratios and a correction for the influence of elevation on atmospheric transmissivity. The contribution of topography on the other hand was factored into the model by applying hemispherical viewshed analysis to determine the amount of incident global radiation on the surface based on the orientation of the terrain. This was implemented through the Solar Analyst Tool in ArcGIS 10. In order to integrate the different spatial datasets in the model, GIS methods and tools were used.

The result of the analysis showed that on average, approximately 95% of the land in Kenya has the potential of receiving approximately 5kWh/m2/day throughout the year. From the analysis of the monthly data, the maps of monthly solar energy potential in the period between April and September had relatively large areas of land characterised as high potential areas when compared to the other months. This task successfully attempted to assess and to document the spatial variability in the characteristics of solar energy potential in Kenya.

Key words: energy, solar energy, renewable energy, radiation, GIS

Note: The online map of monthly and annual solar energy potential in Kenya can be found here.


  1. Can we have a look at the thesis itself bwana?

    1. Published a paper from the thesis

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  3. is fantastic Oloo.have you any recommended topic in using the GIS in selecting the optimum sites for solar energy farms as a thesis? thank in advance for your help


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