What Are The Options For Power Generation In Kenya

What Are The Options For Power Generation In Kenya

The options available as source of power generation in Kenya include hydro, geothermal, thermal, wind, solar, and biomass. All these power options have been explored but electricity is still the dominant power source in various place in Kenya.

According to USAID.gov, the following are the total installed power source and their capacities in Kenya

Sources of power generation in KenyaInstalled capacity
Hydro826MW
Geothermal828MW
Thermal749MW
Wind331MW
Solar51MW
Biomass29MW
Kenya Energy Sector Overview

Domestic Power Generation Use in Kenya

Although the demand for power is high, not all Kenyan population have access to a source of power source especially in the rural areas. A research conducted by energypedia.info shows that the household energy consumption in Kenya in terms of percentage is as shown below

Energy sourcePopulation
Electricity15% of the national population
Electricity in urban areas for lighting42% of urban population
Kerosene lighting in urban areas55% of households in urban areas
Kerosene lighting in rural areas87% of rural households
Energy consumption overview

A study conducted by Magambo, a University of Nairobi student, found out that a household energy consumption in Kenya average to about 208 kWh. The study was conducted using the secondary data of domestic consumers available in the Kenya Power and Lighting Company Ltd (KPLC) database.

The demand for domestic energy consumption in Kenya has always been on the rise. However, limiting factors such as slow pace of KPLC to erect electric poles in rural areas and perhaps low income household has prevented a significant Kenyan population from enjoying electricity.

As a result, households have resorted to using alternat power source such as solar energy to power their homes. In addition, the costly monthly bills of KPLC has made people to invest in solar energy which is more economical in the long run.

Domestic And Industrial Options For Power Generation

Access to electricity in Kenya significantly vary. Domestic power use is electricity but a high demand for solar energy is gradually replacing electricity. Besides, unlike electricity that can be inaccessible in some places, solar energy is easily accessible.

However, majority of commercial and industrial power needs is heavy reliant on electricity despite the availability of other power option. Commercial enterprises such as hotels have started embracing the use of solar energy as an alternate power source.

Despite the highly intensive capital need to install solar power for commercial use in Kenya, in the long run the enterprises can benefit more from the free power generation without bills.

Besides, even if an enterprise uses electricity, they still need a power generator to act as a power backup just in case there is a blackout. Power blackout in Kenya is unpredictable and can be costly to many businesses making solar energy more stable and reliant in the long run.

Power Generation In Kenya Fails To Meet Demand

The demand for power in Kenya has always been on the rise. However, the current options are not sufficient enough to adequately supply every power need.

So if you are wondering “does Kenya import electricity?”, the answer is yes. Kenya imports electricity from neighboring countries. As documented in the Standardmedia.co.ke, in 2019 Kenya imported 176 gigawatt hours of power from Uganda. In addition, Kenya has entered an agreement with Ethiopia in to import upto 400MW of power once the Eastern Electricity Highway is completed.

Challenges Facing Power Generation In Kenya

There are several limiting factors that inhibit effective power generation in Kenya. In energypedia.info, four major hindrances to power generation and transmission were noted

1. Inadequate financing

Just like any other project to be actualize, power generation and transmission is capital intensive. However, in some instances finances may be inadequate and in other instances there can be complete lack of finance to fund a project. Generation and transmission of power needs expensive facilities.

2. Corruption

There has been reports that Power Purchase Agreements have been inconsistent. Furthermore, electricity consumers has raised complains concerning inaccurate meter readings, need for bribes to access power, and sometimes favoritism

3. Improper community involvement

Land has always been an issue in Kenya. Thus, for a power option that requires huge tracts of land for transmission or generation of power that would result in displacing a community, conflict can arise.

4. Policy Issues

Lack of clarity and regular change of policy has been a hindrance to power generation and transmission. Regulations concerning Kenya electric grid are unclear, power expansion policy frequently change as soon as leadership is changed, and transparency is still a issue to be resolved in the energy sector.

Kenyan Institutions Involved In Energy Sector In Kenya

In order to be fully satisfied as a power generator or perhaps a distributing company, it is important to follow the correct protocals involved. Individuals who work independently in the energy sector needs approval by the correct institutions to offer services such as solar installation legally.

The following are the top 9 companies in Kenya that are in energy sector. Each institution has a key responsibility independent from each other that your should know.

1. Energy Regulation Commission (ERC)

ERC is responsible for licensing companies and individuals working in all the energy sector to legally offer their services in Kenya. All needed certifications and standards must be met before one can be licensed by ERC.

Policies set by the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum should be met. Besides, one needs to be tax compliant and you need to register with Kenya Revenue Authority.

2. Ministry of Energy and Petroleum (MoEP)

MoEP is responsible for developing energy policies concerning energy development

3. Ministry Of Planning, Local Authority

Engages in physical planning.

4. Kenya Energy Generation Company (KENGEN)

KENGEN is involved in power generation using hydro and Geo-thermal power plants

5. Kenya Bureau Of Standards

Ascertain the quality of the facility, services, and safety involved in the energy sector

6. Kenya Power

Entails in the distribution or transmission of power off the grid

7. Rural Electrification Authority And Ministry Of Energy And Petroleum (REA)

Manages the rural electrification

8. Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Limited (KETRACO)

KETRACO is involved with managing the electricity transmission lines. In fact, KETRACO builds, plans, design, and operates electricity lines linking substations. The institution manages the national grid system.

9. National Environmental Management Authority

The institution is involved in the coordination and managing the environmental factors.

 Wrap Up.

Now you have a clear picture of ‘what are the power options for power generation in Kenya’, popular source is hydro power for generation of electricity. Other sources include geothermal, thermal, wind, solar, and biomass. Solar is becoming popular among Kenyans due to its long run minimal cost.

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