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Kenya’s power generation capacity grows by 31.7pc

Kenya’s installed power generation capacity rose from 2,265 Megawatts in 2017 to the current 2,984 Megawatts as of June 2021 an increase of 31.7 per cent.

Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Energy Major General (Retired) Dr Gordon Kihalangwa said the development was supported by geothermal and wind power expansion programs undertaken by Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) and other private sector players.

Speaking in Nakuru when he launched the drafting of the fourth Medium Term Plan (MTP IV 2023-2027) of the Energy Sub-Sector Plan, the PS said it was therefore imperative for the Energy sector stakeholders to undertake a strength, weakness, Opportunity and Threat (SWOT) analysis of the sector to enable them identify threats, challenges and available opportunities facing the sector so as to propose holistic plans that took into consideration the emerging issues.

Geothermal is the leading contributor of power to the national grid, accounting for 44.12 per cent followed by hydropower at 26.98 per cent. Thermal is below 13 per cent. KenGen contributes 26 Megawatts to the nation grid from its wind power plant in Ngong hills.

This is in contrast to 2014 when the share of thermal was at a high of 34.49 per cent due to erratic rains that reduced hydropower sources.

“The government and its development partners have increased investments in green energy development to help diversify base load renewable electricity supply in the country and reduce in greenhouse gas emissions occasioned by fossil-fuel based alternatives,” noted Kihalangwa.

Other green energy power plants under development in Kenya, include the 300 Megawatt Lake Turkana Wind Power Plant, which is the single largest wind power plant in Africa, the 70 Megawatt Olkaria 1 and the 140 Megawatts Olkaria V.

“We are focused on achieving our targeted installed power generation capacity— mostly from green sources— to 3,500 Megawatts by 2025. Kenya plans to increase the installed power capacity to about 17,760 Megawatts by 2030; with geothermal expected to contribute about 7,000 Megawatts,” he explained.

According to the Principal Secretary the number of households connected to electricity in the country increased by 1,452,984 households which he stated points to the fruits of the State’s last-mile connectivity programme which was launched in 2014 mainly targeting rural areas.

Kihalangwa said Kenya Power Company had added 317,296 customers in the six months as the economy continue to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic disruptions.

“The latest data from the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority shows that the utility had 8.59 million customers at the end of December last year, from 8.27 million in June 2021.The increase in customer numbers will help the firm grow revenues at a time when it is lowering electricity tariffs as part of the government’s plan to make power more affordable,” the Principal Secretary pointed out.

Kihalangwa stated that Kenya has been ranked as the top country in the world in reducing the population with no access to electricity, pointing to the impact of the State’s focus on rural areas for nearly a decade.

He observed, “The Energy Progress Report for 2021, a product of a partnership between the World Bank and bodies such as the International Energy Agency, indicates that Kenya’s electrification pace is now ahead of population growth.”

The report says that Kenya’s annualized increase in electricity access between 2010 and 2019 was at 5.6 per cent — the largest among the top 20 countries in the world with the biggest electricity access gap.

Kenya’s growth dwarfed the world’s average growth of 0.8 per cent, with the closest countries being Bangladesh (4.1 per cent), Uganda (3.2 per cent), Tanzania (2.5 per cent), India (2.4 per cent), Myanmar and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with 2.2 percent each.

“Among the 20 countries with the largest deficits, Bangladesh, Kenya, and Uganda have made the most progress in electrification, as they achieved annual growth in access of more than three percentage points between 2010 and 2019,” says the report.

In the past four years Kihalangwa pointed out that 841 kilometres of transmission lines with a circuit length of 1,594 kilometres and five substations were completed and had been energized as at June 2021.

He said that more projects with a route length of 1,418 kilometres with a circuit length of 2,238 kilometres are in progress and expected to be completed by June 2023.

“During the period 50 distribution power substations were completed. This contributed to enhanced performance and ease of distribution of power through load growth, technical power losses reduction and flexibility. Additionally, 13,046 kilometres of medium voltage (MV) lines were constructed, effectively extending the MV network length to 86,986 kilometres,” the Principal Secretary revealed.

Kihalangwa further indicated that 4,241 licenses were issued to various practitioners in the area of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.

By Jane Ngugi and Dennis Rasto

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