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CFM partners with SWS for solar-powered desalination development in Kenya

Staff writer
Dec. 9, 2020, 10:25 p.m.

Word count: 540

Climate Fund Managers (CFM) has agreed to co-finance and co-develop a portfolio of solar-powered desalination installations, turning brackish groundwater into drinking water.

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Climate Fund Managers (CFM) has agreed to co-finance and co-develop a portfolio of solar-powered desalination installations, turning brackish groundwater into drinking water.

Under the agreement reached with Solar Water Solutions (SWS), Climate Investor Two (CI2) will initially co-finance a piloting phase for these installations and later co-finance the full roll-out of up to 200 units in the Kitui county, Kenya, that will reach up to 400,000 Kenyan citizens with many amongst the poorest communities.

The total funding opportunity for CI2’s Construction Equity Fund is estimated up to $15m, with the intention to expand the platform further across East Africa after successful implementation efforts in Kenya. The project is co-developed by the Dutch Fund for Climate and Development (DFCD), via its Origination Facility, which is managed by SNV, Netherlands Development Organisation.

The project is located in a landscape identified by the DFCD as being highly vulnerable to the ongoing effects of the global climate crisis.

In Kitui County, many wells that are used to provide drinking water contain salts and fluoride, rendering the water unsafe for direct consumption.

The project aims to remove these substances from the abstracted groundwater and alleviate the lack of access to high-quality drinking water.

“We are very pleased with the initiative that will bring very clean drinking water to the rural population in Kitui County that need it most. It is the most exciting project I have been part of in all my career,” said Emmanuel Kisangau, Minister of Water in Kitui County.

The installations will consist of a mobile container housing reverse osmosis water treatment, solar panels and a ‘water ATM’ which allows citizens to purchase high quality water using their mobile phones. Each installation will run only on renewable energy without the use of expensive battery storage or electricity from the grid.

The primary development and technology company behind the initiative is Solar Water Solutions, a Finnish company Founded in 2015, specializing in delivering water purification solutions for sustainable water use in remote locations.

Antti Pohjola, CEO of Solar Water Solutions, said:: “With this partnership with CFM and locally with Kitui County and Epicenter Africa, we can together revolutionize the access to safe affordable water in rural Kenya in a most sustainable way. All key elements are in place: the most energy-efficient solar powered water purification technology, access to finance with a leading institutional investor, local partners and a market-based business model.”

Given the comparatively low water supply coverage across Kenya coupled with the often-poor water quality when supply is available, the benefits of the desalination installations are expected to offer significant impact potential in areas that are currently prone to water scarcity.

Upon full deployment, it is estimated that the installations will have the capacity to desalinate over 1,500 cubic meters of brackish water per day, and produce over one GWh per year of self-supporting clean energy to power the systems.

Tarun Brahma, Head of Investments at Climate Fund Managers, said: “This initiative covers a key component of CI2’s investment mandate: supplying safe drinking water to people that currently do not have access. We are excited to partner with Solar Water Solutions and the Kitui Government to develop this opportunity and combine safe drinking water supply with a 100 percent renewable energy solution.”

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