Kenya goes Full Force on Renewable Energy

Renewable energy

Kenya is slowly making some huge steps in the energy sector towards renewable energy. In support of this, there are two major renewable energy projects that became operational with the support from African Development Bank; the Turkana Wind Farm and Menengai Geothermal Power Station. The third big project, the Solar Power Plant in Garissa, which was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta, on Friday 13th December 2019, adds a feather to the hat of Kenya’s move towards renewable energy.

From the first two projects, the figures say much more than words could; the rate of electrification in Kenya has improved from 28% in 2013 to about 60% in 2017. These figures are courtesy of data provided by President Uhuru Kenyatta at an energy round table held in January, 2018. With this data, the government has a goal of increasing the rate of electrification to 80% by 2020. The Turkana Wind Farm and Menengai Geothermal Power Station got funding from African Development Bank with partnership from French Agency for development and the European Investment Bank for the sole purpose of diversifying Kenya’s energy supply. The main focus though, is clean, reliable and low-cost energy sources, thus increasing by 10%, the number of renewable energy installed gadgets.

The Wind Farm at Lake Turkana

wind farm project
The Wind Farm Project in Turkana

The wind farm project in Turkana took several years to build and was named ‘African Renewables Deal of the Year,’ in 2014 by Thomson Reuters. It is by far the largest wind farm in Africa and has hundreds of wind turbines whose blades turn up to 11 metres per second and 40 kilometres per hour. It produces a power output of about 300 megawatts.

Menengai Geothermal Power Station

Menengai Geothermal Plant
Menengai Geothermal Plant during construction

Located about 180km northwest of Nairobi is another example of Kenya’s attempt at achieving renewable energy. This geothermal plant supplies energy to almost half a million homes with 70,000 in rural areas. This is because the location of the plant is favourable, located in the heart of the Great Rift Valley which runs for more than 6,000km around the country and into Southern Africa. Kenya’s biggest energy source for the last two years has been geothermal, thanks to these two major projects. As of 2018, Menengai Geothermal Power Station is the largest geothermal energy producer in Africa and the ninth biggest in the world. Both Menengai and Turkana projects have been running at full capacity since they became operational.

The Garissa Solar Power Plant

President Uhuru
President Uhuru after launching the solar power plant in Garissa

The president of Kenya, Hon.Uhuru Kenyatta, launched a Sh.13b solar power plant in Garissa on Friday, 13th December 2019. This plant is one of the largest solar power generation facilities in East Africa. President Uhuru said his administration is keen on ensuring infrastructure projects are implemented to create an enabling environment for investment, wealth and job creation.  “We want money allocated for development to go to the right projects but not to the pockets of a few people. You, the people, are our employers and you have the right to hold us accountable to make sure your money is used properly,” he said.

The Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation project was financed by China’s Exim Bank through a concessional loan arrangement and it comprises 210,000 solar panels. President Uhuru said this plant is part of a broad government renewable energy strategy to harvest 400MW of electricity from the country’s vast solar resource.