Power producer KenGen is moving to build a 67-megawatt hydropower plant on Tana River following studies on the dam that was conceived six years ago. Kenya Electricity Generating Company, a company, owned 70 percent by the government of Kenya, is the developer and owner of this power station. The power station is a run of river, hydropower installation, with a capacity of 67 Megawatts. The design calls for the waters of River Tana to be diverted through a “dug-out channel” and then delivered to the power-generation site, thereby reducing the “displacement of communities. Feasibility and Environmental Impact Assessment studies were conducted in the 2009 to 2012 time-frame. Karura and Mutonga were two locations that were identified as potential sites for hydropower station development.
Tana River hosts KenGen’s other main hydroelectric plants, including the Seven Forks which comprise Masinga plant, Kamburu power station, Gitaru, Kindaruma plant and Kiambere. The proposed Karura dam had earlier been planned to be built between Kiambere and Kindaruma dams.
“The dam is going to be given priority now that we have a pipeline of wind and solar power plants whose intermittency need to be balanced,” said business development director Moses Wekesa.
Hydropower plants, like diesel generators, are easy to switch on and off to match demand. Hydros are preferred over thermal due to their lower power costs but are however dependent on weather conditions.
The Lake Turkana Windpower, the largest in Africa, with a capacity of 310 megawatts is complete and is awaiting construction of a transmission line to link it to the grid.
Several other wind farms, including the 80-megawatt wind farm in Meru and solar parks, are in the pipeline, which will require stabilisers, technically known as picking plants.
Presently, KenGen has a hydropower capacity of 818 megawatts, accounting for half its total power mix.
Geothermal, which has received much focus from the firm recently, stands at 534 megawatts, followed by thermal (254 megawatts) and wind (25 megawatts).
KenGen sells power to electricity distributor Kenya Power for onward sale to homes and businesses.