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From L-R: Francois Van Themaat (Managing Director, Mettle Solar OFGEN), Mahmud Jan Mohamed (Managing Director, TPS Serena Hotels) , Caroline Kimathi (Director of Renewable Energy, Energy Regulatory Commission) and Professor Izael Pereira Da Silva (DVC Strathmore University)

Serena Hotels and Mettle Solar OFGEN have officially opened “Kenya’s First Fully Solar powered Lodge”. Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge located in Tsavo West National Park implemented a fully-fledged solar power plant to provide for its entire power requirements and enhance environmental sustainability.

The solar power plant is installed under a lease arrangement and produces 307kWp utilizing SMA Solar off-grid technology with 670kWh of usable lead acid battery storage, with the capacity to supply Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge’s total energy requirements during normal weather conditions. During adverse weather, additional energy needs are met using synchronised diesel generators which were previously the main source of energy before the commissioning of the solar plant in July 2017.

Mr. Francois Van Themaat, Managing Director, Mettle Solar OFGEN says, “This is among one of our first projects in the hospitality industry. It is a big win for Kenya to get a ground breaking project like this, up and running. This took the effort of our researchers, engineers, suppliers and the Government of Kenya and we look forward to working with Serena Hotels for more ground-breaking projects.”

Aerial view of the Solar Power Plant at Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge, Tsavo West National Park, Kenya

Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge, in October 2018 won the Special Award; “Extraordinary Business Case and CSR”, at the official Global Best Practice Awards 2018 ceremony in Milan, Italy. Kilaguni Serena won this award for using eco-friendly practices in providing professional textile care through sustainable and energy efficient laundry services as a result of the Solar Power Plant. Incorporating historic energy data insights to our business strategy is one of the key drivers that enabled our journey from the use of fossil based energy to renewable and effective energy sources such as the installation of the solar power plant.

Mr. Mahmud Jan Mohamed, Managing Director, Serena Hotels says, “The Company continues to focus on innovative programs that respond to the needs of the environment, economy and communities within which it operates – the fundamental tenets of Sustainability”. He further added, “The demand from eco-travelers is growing and Serena continues to adapt its business best practices model to meet the ecological travel experiences and expectations of today’s guest. The hotel sector is energy-intensive and despite being remotely located in the park; we have successfully managed to use a clean-renewable source of energy to fully run the lodge operations.”

The off-grid solar system by Mettle Solar OFGEN has been implemented in two properties; Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge that has the very first Tesla Inverter/Battery System in Kenya and the largest battery system in East Africa, while Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge’s solar plant is recognized as Kenya’s largest Solar PV System on tracker. Additionally, the firms commissioned two hybrid projects in early February 2018 at Lake Elmenteita Serena Camp and Sweetwaters Serena Camp. In the years to come, these systems will enable Serena Hotels to make major strides in decreasing its operational costs and carbon foot print thus contributing to a healthier environment now and for our next generations.

Mr. Thorsten Ronge, Managing Director, SMA Solar Technology South Africa says, “The projects focus on secure and environmentally friendly energy supply is testament to SMA’s vision of ‘generating energy where it is needed’. We are proud that our Sunny Island battery inverters, which have been shipped to the world for nearly twenty years to generate clean and reliable electricity in remote locations, form the heart and brain of Kilaguni’s off-grid solar installation. SMA congratulates Serena Hotels and Mettle Solar OFGEN on this extraordinary project and solar powering the historic safari lodge.”

All Serena’s programs are aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set out by the United Nation Development Program. Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge solar power plant particularly aligns to “SDG 13 Climate Action” – with the aim of fighting climate change and its effects to the environment.

According to the solar power plant data records, 467 tons of carbon dioxide has been avoided since the last 15 months of installation. To extract this carbon dioxide from the environment naturally within 10 years 37,399 trees need to be planted. The solar power plants complement the Serena East Africa tree planting initiative that has taken place for over two decades.

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