Khilna believes “there’s huge potential for solar in the long run”. With excellent solar resources, ie plenty of sunshine, Kenya has the opportunity for cleaner, greener energy which will also bring the cost of power down.
Khilna develops power plants which serve renewable energy up to Kenya’s national grid. The CEO of Kenergy Renewables, her flagship project is a solar power grid in Laikipia, approximately 2 to 3 hours North West of Nairobi. When completed the project will have cost 90 million USD, will cover around 300 acres. The energy produced will serve the equivalent of 200 thousand rural households per year.
Determined to work in an industry that that was environmentally orientated Khilna first looked at chemical engineering and clean technology as a way that she could have a positive environmental impact through her work. However on graduating with a chemical engineering degree from Cambridge she encountered an emerging renewable energy industry which “seemed to be addressing the issue of climate change bang on. It was one of the key solutions”. A Masters in renewable energy set her firmly into the sector and she spent the next five years developing wind farms in Ireland.
Having been born and brought up in Kenya Khilna always intended on returning home but the question was “is this the right moment?”. The timing was finally right by 2008 when the Kenyan government set up regulatory framework to support renewable energy producers. By 2011 she and her two partners were in Kenya looking for potential projects.
When asked about her hopes for the industry Khilna points to the government. “I would hope is that the governments across Africa keep rolling out a good regulatory framework which allows renewables to come online and it is incredibly important that there’s government support to that. ” With a good supply of sunshine, and growing demand for power, the future of solar looks promising.
Khilna wears a Kiko Romeo dress and a Le Collane di Betta necklace.