Renewable Energy Sources

Kenya receives daily insolation of 4-6kWh/m2. Solar utilization is mainly for photovoltaic (PV) systems, drying and water heating. The solar PV systems are used mainly for telecommunication, cathodic protection of pipelines, lighting and water pumping. Some of the barriers affecting the exploitation of solar energy resource include high initial capital costs, low awareness of the potential opportunities and economic benefits offered by solar technologies, and a lack of adherence to system standards by suppliers.

The Government has zero-rated the import duty and removed Value Added Tax (VAT) on renewable energy equipment and accessories. The Energy Regulatory Commission has prepared and gazetted the Energy (Solar Water Heating) Regulations 2012 and The Energy (Solar Photovoltaic) Regulations 2012 to provide the much needed policy framework.
A vibrant solar energy market has developed in Kenya over the years for providing electricity to homes and institutions remote from the national grid and for medium temperature water heaters for domestic and commercial usage. A preliminary survey done in 2005 established that the annual market demand for Photo Voltaic (PV) panels was 500 kilowatt peak (kWp) and this was projected to grow at 15% annually.

A government programme which commenced in 2005 to provide basic electricity to boarding schools and health facilities in remote areas has increased the annual demand for PV panels by 400 kilowatt peak. Out of approximately 3,000 eligible institutions, 450 have been equipped with PV Systems with a combined capacity of 1,450 kilowatts peak in the last four years. Another 400 institutions are earmarked to benefit from installation of PV systems with a combined estimated capacity of 80 kilowatts peak. There is also the wider market provided by the other member states of the East African Community and COMESA. It is estimated that the initial market demand for PV systems is one megawatt peak, and this presents a great opportunity to investors in PV panels manufacture.

An opportunity also exists for manufacture of associated components and accessories, such as charge controllers, inverters and PV batteries. The Northern Kenya and other arid lands have strong reliable sunshine throughout the year thus providing high potential for investment in solar energy for sale to the national grid. Almost the whole of North Eastern province has this potential.

Kenya’s total installed large hydropower capacity is 743 MW. Small hydro potential is estimated at 3,000MW, of which it is estimated that less than 30MW have been exploited and only 15MW supply the grid.

High installation costs averaging US$ 2,500 per KW, inadequate hydrological data, effects of climate change, and a limited local capacity to manufacture small hydro power components have combined to impede exploitation of small-scale hydro-electricity.

To mitigate these challenges, the Government is carrying out phased feasibility studies to establish the capacities of potential hydro power sites across the country.
Kenya’s Least Cost Power Development Plan has identified a number of sites where hydro power could be developed effectively. Although the sites have not been considered economical in the past, recent oil price increases now make them attractive for investment. The best among the undeveloped hydropower sites are:

  • Mutonga on the Tana River with an expected capacity of 60 MW and an annual average electricity generation of 336 GWh. The estimated cost of construction is US$ 270 million.
  • Downstream of the Mutonga site is the Lower Grand Falls with a capacity of 140 MW and annual average electricity generation of 715 GWh.

Kenya’s wind installed capacity is 5.1 MW, operated by KenGen at the Ngong site. High capital cost and lack of sufficient wind regime data are some of the barriers affecting the exploitation of wind energy resources. Moreover, potential areas for wind energy generation are far away from the grid and load-centres, requiring high capital investment for the transmission lines.
The Ministry of Energy developed the Wind Atlas in 2003 to provide investors with indicative data on the strength and location of wind resources in Kenya. To augment the information contained in the Wind Atlas, the Ministry, with the assistance of Development Partners, is installing 53 Wind Masts and Data Loggers to collect site-specific data.

The low exploitation level of the resource prompted the Government to develop the Feed-in Tariffs (FiT) Policy which provides for a tariff not exceeding US Cents 11.0 per Kilowatt-hour of electrical energy supplied in bulk to the grid for wind generated electricity.
There are high wind speeds in various parts of northern Kenya and other arid lands. Preliminary wind resource assessments show that wind regimes in certain parts of Kenya (such as Marsabit, Ngong and the Coastal region) can support commercial electricity generation as they enjoy wind speeds ranging from 8 to 14 metres per second (m/s). Specific areas that have been identified for wind power generation are Marsabit, Laisamis, Turkana and Samburu.

These areas have potential to produce over 1,000 MW of wind power for sale to the national grid. This preliminary assessment has been used to develop a wind map for the whole country. To facilitate decision-making in wind power generation investment, the government is undertaking wind data logging in high potential areas of Kenya. However, detailed feasibility studies would be carried out to determine the viability of specific sites identified in the wind map. The Kenya Government would, therefore, like to invite the private sector to invest in wind power electricity generation.

Geothermal resources in Kenya are located within the Rift Valley with an estimated potential of between 7,000 MW to 10,000 MW spread over 14 prospective sites. Geothermal has numerous advantages over other sources of power: it is not affected by drought and climatic variability; has the highest availability (capacity factor) at over 95 %; is green energy with no adverse effects on the environment; and is indigenous and readily available in Kenya, unlike most thermal energy that relies on imported fuel. This makes geothermal a very suitable source for baseload electricity generation in the country.

The current installed capacity in the country is 198 MW with 150 MW operated by KenGen and 48 MW by ORMAT Power 4, both in the Olkaria Block. An additional 280 MW, scheduled for commissioning in 2013, is also under development in the same block. Drilling is ongoing in the Menengai Field for Phase I of 400 MW, whilst initial project development activities have commenced for the development of 800 MW in the Bogoria – Silali Block. These are geared towards meeting the Vision 2030 Medium Term target of 1,600 MW by 2016 and eventually 5,000 MW by 2030.

Realizing the need to reduce the long gestation periods in the development of geothermal power, the Government has set up the Geothermal Development Company (GDC) to undertake integrated development of geothermal power through initial exploration, drilling, resource assessments and the promotion of direct utilization of geothermal resources. GDC is 100% owned and funded by the Government. By undertaking the initial project activities, GDC will absorb the attendant risks associated with geothermal development and therefore open up opportunities for both public and private participation.
The Government is cognizant that joint efforts will be required from both the public and private sectors for accelerated development of the country’s geothermal resources. Therefore, under the FiT Policy, the Government has gazetted a tariff not exceeding US Cents 8.8 per Kilowatt-hour of electrical energy supplied in bulk to the grid operator at the interconnection point for up to 70 MW.

It is estimated conservatively that the Kenya Rift has a potential greater than 2000 MWe of Geothermal Power. A total of twenty sites have been earmarked for further investigation. Exploration first started by drilling two wells in 1956 in Olkaria I and was followed by increased interest in the 1970s. Initial production started in 1981 when the first plant of 15MW was commissioned in Olkaria I.  Currently 45MWe is generated by Olkaria I Geothermal Power Station; 70 MWe is produced from Olkaria II (both operated by KenGen) and an IPP is producing 12Mwe at Olkaria III. KenGen and the IPP produce a total of 129 MW of geothermal energy, and this is expected to increase to 576MW within the next 20 years.

Bio-energy is the energy derived from various sources of solids, liquids and gaseous biomass, including fuel wood, charcoal, ethanol, bio-diesel and biogas. Biomass contribution to Kenya’s final energy demand is 70 per cent and provides for more than 90 per cent of rural household energy needs. The main sources of biomass for Kenya include charcoal, wood-fuel and agricultural waste. The Government has identified the existence of a substantial potential for power generation using forestry and agro-industry residues including bagasse. The total potential for cogeneration using sugarcane bagasse is 193MW. Mumias Sugar Company (Independent Power Producer) generates 35MW out of which 26MW is dispatched to the grid. However, opportunities within other sugar factories estimated to be up to 300 MW have not been exploited.

The FiT policy provides for biomass energy resource generated electricity with a firm power fixed tariff not exceeding US Cents 10 per Kilowatt-hour of electrical energy supplied in bulk to the grid operator at the interconnection point. Under this policy, 18MW cogeneration project for use of cane bagasse at the coastal region of Kenya has been approved.

Currently, biomass energy development is the focus of attention due to dwindling global resources of fossil fuels and rising prices. Their potential to mitigate climate change adds their attractiveness. Consumption stood at 1.4 and 3.3 million litres of petrol and automotive diesel respectively per day in 2006 with average growth rate of 2.8% per year. Projections indicate that Kenya will require 2.7 and 6.5 million litres of petrol and automotive diesel respectively per day by 2030. Currently, Kenya would require 77 million litres of ethanol per year for a national 10% (E10) blend at current consumption levels. This will need to grow to 148 million litres by 2030. A national B2 would require about 28 million litres of bio-diesel at current consumption levels and would be required to grow to 50 million litres by 2030.

Opportunities in production and processing of Jatropha and sweet sorghum into bio-fuel exist in Galana and other areas of the country such as Eastern, North-Eastern, Rift-Valley and Nyanza Provinces. In addition, consultancy opportunities exist in research work and capacity building in bio-technology and relate industrial potential for production of biofuel.

Biogas in Kenya   is widely   produced with over 8000 biogas plants utilizing various raw materials e.g. agricultural wastes, slaughterhouse waste, municipal wastes e.t.c. However the situation is amorphous   in the sense   that there is no consolidated data on biogas production making it a challenge in determining the country’s overall capacity.

Biogas potential in Kenya has been identified in Municipal waste, sisal and coffee production. The total installed electric capacity potential of all sources ranges from 29-131MW, which is about 3.2 to 16.4% of the total electricity production. The table below depicts the various sources and their electricity production potential.

The biogas standards are currently being determined to pave way for the formulation of the relevant legislations. The future of biogas in Kenya is bright with a potential of over 1000 MW.

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