The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) held their 2015 renewable energy conference at Safari park Hotel from 1 to 2 July. Ms. Phylis Wakiaga the new Chief Executive Officer of KAM opening the conference said, “We need to fuel the growth of our country, and we can power Kenya through the use of renewable sources of energy. Kenya has enough renewable energy to power itself.” 

 

The different speakers at the conference recognized that green energy is a low hanging fruit ready to be picked. Eng Albert Mugo the Managing Director of Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KENGEN) gave the keynote speech on behalf of the Principal Secretary Ministry of Energy and Petroleum Eng Joseph K Njoroge.  

“KenGen has taken the lead in clean energy research and generation,” Eng Mugo said. KenGen uses hydro, wind, and geothermal power to inject electricity into the Kenyan grid. In April 2015, about 90% of the power produced for the Kenyan grid was from clean energy sources. 

“Kenya enjoys a largely green grid,” said Eng Mugo. KenGen continues to grow its renewable energy capacity and has established an agreement with the Meru County government to produce more wind power into the grid. This will add to other wind power generating assets KenGen has including the Ngong hills wind farm. 

“The government is supporting the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) to strengthen the grid and handle the demand and distribution needs,” He added. Geothermal was noted to be the least coast source of energy and a major contributor to the installed capacity in Kenya and a base load support.

Solar was also noted as a major and growing component of electricity generation in Kenya. The annual solar market in Kenya is set to grow by about 15%. There are already local companies that are ready to take advantage of this renewable energy market. Ubbink East Africa a joint venture between Dutch based Ubbink B.V. and Kenyan based Largo Investments has set up operations in Naivasha to manufacture solar panels for the Kenyan market.

In a presentation prepared by Eng Isaac Kiva of the Kenyan Ministry of Energy, He noted that 1465MW of energy generated into the Kenyan grid currently  making about 66.3% of the installed capacity was from renewable sources. This makes the Kenyan grid a largely green grid.

Dr. Bernard Chumo the Managing Director of KPLC noted that up to 61% of his company’s revenue comes from members of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers. He indicated that there are major renovation works that are ongoing in the power sector led by KPLC. There are expansion works including projects encompassing distribution networks, substations, and even renovations. 

“The biggest challenge is that our system is very rigid and we need to create redundancies. We must establish a network that is flexible to improve our services to be at par with other countries in the developed world.” Dr. Chumo observed.

KPLC has been paid KES 953 million to light up public places in Nairobi as a pilot project to apply in other parts in the country if it succeeds. They have used upto 705 LEDs lamps from Philips for the 13.5 Kilometre road from Westlands to Ngong road through Yaya centre making the road a model of the transformative project.

“We have now moved into the Central Business District, Night life is slowly coming back to town courtesy of the street lights by the government through the KPLC project”, said Dr Chumo.

Last Mile

KPLC is implementing the last mile project that has been able to connect 1.4 million Kenyans to the grid from March 2013 to 2015. The biggest impediment to electricity access in Kenya has been the cost of connection and KPLC is determined to solve that problem through the last mile project.

By the time of the conference, Dr Chumo indicated that KPLC was seeking KES 14.5 billion from the World Bank toward the last mile project. Fifty six billion Kenya shillings is needed to achieve universal electricity access in Kenya. Kenya could achieve 70% access by 2017 and universal access by 2020 according to Dr Chumo.

KPLC will connect all those around new transformers even if they do not have the connection fee of 15 000 KES. Those who will have not paid this fee will be given meters that are programmed to allow them access after completion of payments. They will be given up to 36 months to pay their instalments.

More generation than demand

In the conference, delegates observed that there is currently more installed capacity in Kenya than there is demand yet the government was still working toward more generation.   “The question is academic and we should have a national level dialogue on this topic,” the KPLC MD said. “As a country we should recognize that we are just another economy amongst others and should learn and share experiences with others,” He added.

The renewable energy conference indicates how much renewable continue to be of significance in Kenya with more green generation is expected into the national grid.

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