Renewable energy in Kenya
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Most of Kenya's electricity is generated by renewable energy sources. On 13 December 2019, Kenya brought online a new 50 megawatt (MW) solar plant in Turkana at the cost of $129 million, bringing her renewable energy to 90% of its power mix. With an installed power capacity of 2,336 MW, Kenya generates 870 MW hydroelectric power, 706 MW geothermal power, 253.5 MW thermal power and the rest from other sources. Kenya is the largest geothermal energy producer in Africa and was also the first geothermal-producing state in Africa when Olkaria I Power Station was commissioned in 1981, generating 45 MW. Seventy three percent (73%) of Kenyan households have electricity access. Currently, Kenya is building Olkaria I Unit 6 which will produce an additional 83 MW to the grid making her the 7th largest geothermal power producer in the world. Additionally, Kenya has the largest wind farm project in Africa (300 MW) with the Lake Turkana Wind Project Power Project. In March 2011, Kenya became the first country in Africa to open a carbon exchange, presenting 17 projects for registration to the U.N. Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism executive board. Kenya is also a signatory to the Paris Agreement and targets to reduce carbon emissions by 30% below business as usual by 2030 as determined in the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). The Renewable Energy Directorate under the Ministry of Energy is responsible for research and development of renewable energy technologies.
Kenya is the eighth largest geothermal power producer in the world. Exploration of geothermal resources in the Kenyan Rift Valley started in the 1950s and gained momentum in the 1960s. From 1967, the Kenyan government, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the East Africa Power & Lighting Company LTD conducted geological and geophysical surveys in the area between Lake Bogoria and Olkaria. To date, over 300 wells have been sunk, with one costing as much as $6 million. Kenya was the first African country to tap geothermal power and is the largest producer of geothermal energy. Geothermal power contributes up to 38% of Kenya's power, more than any nation.
The Geothermal Development Company, a semi-autonomous government agency is tasked with developing steam fields and selling geothermal steam for electricity generation to Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) and Independent Power Producers. The Geothermal Development Company drilled 59 wells in the Olkaria I to Olkaria IV projects between 2009 - 2010. The Rift Valley has an estimated geothermal potential of 15,000 MW using today's technology.
Hydroelectric power in Kenya currently accounts for about 49% of installed capacity, which is about 761 MW. However, the Kenyan Government is strongly pushing for a shift to other alternative resources of electricity generation. By 2030 hydro power will only account for 5% of total capacity at 1,039 MW.
Hydroelectric power stations in Kenya
- See main article: List of hydro-electric power stations in Kenya
Seven Forks Scheme
The scheme generates almost all of Kenya's Hydro-electric power. It generates approximately 530 MW of power. It includes
- Masinga Power Station
- Gitaru Power Station
- Kamburu Power Station
- Kindaruma Power Station
- Kiambere Power Station
- High Grand Falls hydropower station
- Sang’oro Hydro
- Kindaruma 3rd Unit & Upgrading Unit 1&2
Gitaru Power Station
Gitaru Power Station is the biggest power station in Kenya in terms of installed and effective capacity. It can produce 222 MW and was commissioned in 1978 (145 MW) and 1999 (80 MW). It is one of the stations included in the Seven Forks Scheme.
Kenyans are a world leader in the number of solar power systems installed per capita. More Kenyans are turning to solar power rather than connections to the country's electric grid. This is due to relatively high connectivity costs to the grid and the abundance of solar power in Kenya.
Kenya has several notable solar power distributors including M-Kopa with locally adopted payment schemes including pay-as-you-go and microfinance. The World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC) have partnered as part of a Lighting Africa initiative. Western companies have also helped sponsor efforts to introduce decentralized solar power solutions in the country.
Several solar power stations are operational or under construction are 55 MW Garissa, 40 MW Rumuruti, 40 MW Radiant, 40 MW Eldosol, 40 MW Alten, 10 MW Kenyatta University, 52 MW Malind and 50 MW Kopere.
Renewable future targets
Kenya aims to produce 19,200 MW against a demand of 15,000 MW by 2030. All this is shown in the table below:
- Energy in Kenya
- List of countries by renewable electricity production
- Wind power in Kenya
- Geothermal power in Kenya
- Renewable energy by country
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