Kenya among top nations in green power, says report

Jun 07, 2016 12:00 AM

Kenya has developed the fourth-largest geothermal energy in the world, putting the country among top green energy economies.

The latest Renewables Global Status report shows that the amount of geothermal energy in Kenya's national grid expanded to a total of 600 megawatts (MW) by the end of 2015.

Geothermal now accounts for over a quarter of the country's total power capacity of 2,333MW.

Turkey set up the largest geothermal capacity of 159MW last year, followed by United States (71MW), Mexico (53MW) and Kenya (20MW) at fourth position.

Japan came in fifth having added 7MW of steam energy to its power matrix while Germany was sixth (6MW).

Kenya is ranked as the eighth largest producer of geothermal electricity in the world.

The country has an untapped potential of 10,000MW of steam energy in its Rift Valley basin where a series of exploration works are ongoing.

Government officials have in recent years renewed their interest in geothermal energy to reduce the economy's use of expensive electricity from diesel generators and boost the country's competitiveness.

 

About 280MW of steam power was fed to the grid in 2014 from the Olkaria fields in Naivasha that helped to cut the share of thermal power, easing power bills by about 30 per cent.

Electricity distributor Kenya Power buys geothermal from producer KenGen at about Sh7 per kilowatt hour (kWh) for onward sale to homes and businesses.

This is three times cheaper compared to diesel generated electricity.

Official data shows that geothermal monthly consumption hit a record peak of 402.1 million units last October, accounting for 49 per cent of electricity consumed by homes and businesses.

This was a result of increased generation by KenGen, which switched on several geothermal wellheads -- smaller power producing plants that enable early tapping of electricity while awaiting the construction of big plants.

The country relies on an energy mix of geothermal, thermal and hydropower - which is the cheapest source at Sh3 per unit but unreliable due to its dependence on weather patterns.

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