Brilon, August 30, 2011. Ubbink B.V. CENTROTEC Sustainable AG’s Dutch subsidiary, is today opening East Africa’s first factory for solar modules in Naivasha, near to the Kenyan capital Nairobi. Ubbink East Africa Ltd plans to manufacture approx. 30,000 photovoltaic modules per annum, especially for small solar systems. Smaller complete systems such as these, which provide an off-grid, environmentally-friendly power supply – so-called “Solar Home Systems” – have great potential in Africa. Application areas are private residences, village power systems or solar systems for schools, hospitals, for the water supply system and telecommunications. Numerous European and African guests from business and politics, including the foreign affairs committee of the Dutch parliament, which is visiting the region, are expected for the inaugural celebrations of the new Ubbink East Africa Factory. In addition to an opportunity to enter a growing market, the CENTROTEC Group sees its involvement on the African continent as an important plank of its social responsibility.
Ubbink East Africa CEO Haijo Kuper is pleased with the progress being made with the new production plant: “Our solar factory – the first in the whole of East and Central Africa – is also kick starting local industry. Within the space of a year, we managed to qualify more than 30 employees for a technology that is completely new for East Africa and which is our contribution to the continent’s ongoing development.” All employees were initially trained in the Netherlands on the machines that had been ready installed there, to ensure a smooth start to production – a measure that is already paying dividends in Naivasha. Using cutting-edge European technology, the new factory is producing more than 100 high quality, KEBS certified (Kenya Bureau of Standards) solar panels a day from a standing start.
Ubbink East Africa Ltd. is part of the Joint Venture between the Dutch company Ubbink B.V. and Chloride Exide, East Africa’s largest supplier of batteries and solar technology. The Dutch government’s fund for renewable energies in underdeveloped countries contributed more than the half of the investment cost of building the solar factory in Kenya as an exemplary, sustainable, socially responsible investment project. The CENTROTEC-Group wants the project to promote sustainable economic growth as well as the environmentally-friendly electrification of Africa. Only a very small percentage of the sun-drenched continent is connected to the power supply, so that decentralised power generation systems make sense. The rural population in particular is excluded from economic progress by the lack of access to electricity. The lack of power hampers participation in educational opportunities, which would be an enormously important route out of poverty, medical care and economic activity of almost every description. Almost the only energy sources are noxious paraffin lamps or diesel generators, which are becoming very expensive to run because of maintenance and rising oil prices. Gert-Jan Huisman, CEO of CENTROTEC Sustainable AG: “As a socially responsible and aware Group, we see our involvement on the African continent as an obiligation of our social role of using our “European Engineering Made in Africa” solar modules to create climate friendly, local power generation solutions and contribute to a sustainable development of the region.”
CENTROTEC Sustainable AG
CENTROTEC Sustainable AG and its subsidiaries enjoy a presence in over 50 different countries. The principal Group companies are Wolf Heiztechnik, Brink Climate Systems and Ned Air in the Climate Systems segment, which have specialised in heating, climate control and ventilation technology including solar thermal systems, CHP and residential ventilation systems with heat recovery as well as Ubbink and Centrotherm, which have focused on gas flue systems and solar system components in the Gas Flue Systems segment. This makes CENTROTEC Europe’s only listed full-service provider of solar thermal systems and energy-saving solutions for buildings.
The Ubbink Group, headquartered in the Netherlands, supplies innovative solutions and technologies for increasing energy efficiency in buildings and improving the indoor climate. In addition to gas flue systems, Ubbink also produces products for building sealing and insulation, ventilation systems, solar components and systems in Europe and worldwide.