Renewable energy is energy that is produced from sources that do not deplete instead, they are replenished naturally. It is energy drawn from the earth’s natural resources which are infinite such as wind and sunlight. Renewable or clean energy is the alternative to traditional energy that relies on fossil fuels and is detrimental to the environment.
Renewable energy reduces greenhouse gas emission into the air. As a consumer, you have the opportunity of making an impact or improving the environment by choosing alternative energy sources. Renewable energy not only reduces utility costs but is also safe and eco-friendly. In the US for instance, the use of renewable energy between the years 2000 and 2018 doubled because of the government incentive to use alternative energy. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) revealed that the consumption of renewable energy will continue to increase through 2050.
Closer home, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced a move for Kenya to have 100% dependency on renewable energy. With an eye on sustainable development, he plans to mitigate climate change by reducing carbon footprint. Currently, 70% of the nation’s energy capacity is powered by renewable energy sources, which is more than three times the global average.
Role of Renewable Energy in Kenya
The potential that Kenya has in regards to renewable energy is unquestionable. Apart from the government’s resolve to improve the consumption of renewable energy, the business community is committed to continued industrial growth by reducing the impact of carbon emissions from the industries. Excellent wind, solar and geothermal resources also give Kenya the necessary attributes to pioneer large scale renewable energy in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Kenya ranks high on clean energy investment in Africa, second only to South Africa and 6th globally. It is also the world’s 8th largest producer of geothermal energy, with ideal conditions to exploit wind and solar resources for power generation. The Kenyan government has also actively facilitated the growth of renewable energy by removing VAT on renewable energy equipment. This shows how committed the government is to the move towards clean energy.
Renewable energy is vital because of its ability to combat climate change and reduce the devastating effects that climate change brings. The temperature of the earth has risen by an average of 0.85°C since the end of the 19th Century, according to a report by national Geographic in its special issue on climate change in November 2015.
Of all the primary concerns for humanity in the 21st century, climate change is the main one. This is due to the adverse effects it has on human beings; distribution of vector bone diseases and effects on the risk of disasters like hurricanes. Such disasters come as a result of increased frequency and intensity of heat waves, increased floods and prolonged droughts.
Kenya experienced months of drought, with the Northern part of Kenya being worst hit. There were months of rain before the drought began but it was not enough to prevent the worsening food and water shortages. Drought left more than a million people on the brink of starvation, with many deaths reported. This long drought, the worst in 38 years according to reports, oppressed Kenya and left over half a million children battling malnutrition.
Kenya is the epitome of leadership in climate action because it is well ahead in its energy transition, with 98% of its electricity production coming from clean sources (38% from hydroelectricity, 31% from geothermal and 29% from solar). The country is also rich in innovative solutions which are good for both the climate and the communities.
There is a promising potential for power generation from renewable energy sources due to abundance in solar, hydro, wind, biomass and geothermal resources. This has made the government to seek expansion on the generation of renewable energy to reduce the carbon footprint and provide power to rural areas as well. Due to a lesser production cost, and an even lower cost of maintenance, the government of Kenya has made it a priority to develop geothermal and wind energy for rural electrification project.