Kenyan government is doubling its efforts and investment towards renewable energy, a move that is expected to reduce reliance on fossil fuels in the country.
Kenya is ranked second to South Africa in clean energy investment in the continent and sixth globally. $3.6B has been invested in Kenya’s clean energy from 2009 – 2016. But even with the massive investments and projects, it is clear electricity production will need to grow at a faster rate as demand grows.
The country’s ambitious plan of raising electricity capacity from the current 2.4GW to 22.7GW by 2030 is pegged on producing cheaper sustainable energy, improving distribution and exploring clean energy.
The government, through the National Energy Policy, has set lofty targets for its geothermal, wind and solar resources, aiming to collectively produce 9GW by 2030
Lake Turkana wind power project becomes the latest largest wind farm in Africa with a capacity of 310 megawatts – enough to power up to one million homes.
Responding to this news, Greenpeace Africa’s Executive Director Njeri Kabeberi says; “we salute the commitment of the Kenyan government to transitioning from fossils fuels towards renewable energy. This is a good step toward sustainable development not only in Kenya but also in Africa. The government must now hasten up the installation of transmission lines as current delays in the process means homes and businesses still have to dig deep into their pockets to pay Sh 5.7 billion surcharge through their power bills”.
Also applauding Kenya’s efforts, Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), the international trade association for the wind power industry, says Kenya is setting the pace in the region in the use of wind as a renewable source of energy by initiating the generation of 700 megawatts for the national grid.
“For the Middle East and Africa, the main drivers will continue to be South Africa, Morocco (and we hope) Egypt, with strong contributions from Kenya and Ethiopia as some of the smaller markets are just getting off the ground,” says GWEC in its latest annual Global Wind Report market update.
It notes that at the end of 2016, over 99 per cent of Middle East and Africa region’s total wind energy installations were spread across 10 countries – South Africa, Morocco (787 megawatts), Egypt (810 megawatts), Tunisia (245 megawatts), Ethiopia (171 megawatts), Jordan (119 megawatts), Iran (91 megawatts), Cape Verde (24 megawatts), Kenya (19 megawatts), Israel (6.25 megawatts) and Algeria (10 megawatts).
The report cites Kenya’s Lake Turkana wind project, now completed and set to be commissioning in the coming months, as an example.
The 310-megawatt project will account for almost 18 per cent of Kenya’s total installed power generation capacity.
The potential of wind power in terms of reducing carbon emissions is significant. According to the Global Wind Energy Council, in 2016 wind power helped the planet avoid more than 637 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.
“It is time for Kenya to kick start a thriving renewable energy market that will help remove all the barriers to clean energy expansion. Kenya’s government should inject more resources into such projects to enable them come on board on time. This will enable consumers to benefit from affordable clean renewable energy,” adds Kabeberi.
Furthermore, she urged Kenya’s government to stop the proposed Lamu and Kitui coal projects and increase its uptake of renewable energy, citing Coal is dirty and highly polluting. The climate change costs of coal will only increase in the coming years while innovation is driving the price of renewables down.
“There are more opportunities in the renewable energy industry in Kenya, in fact there is a growing global trend to shift away from fossil fuels and to renewable energy. It is essential that Kenya continues to follow this trend to ensure that it is not left behind in the global economy”, concluded Kabeberi.
The German Development Bank and Agence Française de Développement of France are also doing due diligence of a wind farm of the KenGen in Meru with plan to construct a 400-megawatt plant.