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5 Renewable Energy Solutions that are Powering Kenya
22 June 2023 - Grace Mwarania

Kenya is making great strides in utilizing renewable energy sources and reducing its dependence on fossil fuels. With the help of innovative solutions, the country is leading the way in transitioning to a sustainable energy future. In this blog post, we’ll explore 5 Renewable Energy solutions that are helping to power Kenya.

  • Solar

Kenya is blessed with abundant sunlight, making it an ideal location for taking advantage of this renewable energy source. Some areas in Kenya that are already utilizing solar energy include Marsabit, Turkana, Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, and Isiolo counties. Kenyan companies such as M-KOPA Solar, and SunEdison specialize in providing solar energy services to individuals and businesses throughout the country.

While solar energy offers many advantages to Kenya, there are some drawbacks. For example, solar installations require upfront capital investment and can be expensive to maintain

Additionally, they are dependent on weather conditions, meaning that they are not always reliable sources of energy.

Looking ahead, experts predict that solar power will continue to be a popular choice among businesses and households in Kenya. As technology advances, prices are expected to drop, making it an even more affordable option. 

Furthermore, government initiatives like the Kenya Off-Grid Solar Access Project aim to increase access to solar energy by providing solar lighting solutions to rural communities. With these developments, there is no doubt that solar power will continue to be a major contributor to Kenya’s clean energy future.

Solar energy

  • Wind

Innovative solutions are being developed in Kenya to capture wind energy. Turbines are strategically placed in areas where the wind speed is higher and more consistent. Some of the most popular locations include coastal and hilly areas, as well as high plains. 

Companies such as PEG Africa, and M-KOPA Solar are just some of the businesses that have been utilizing wind energy to provide off-grid power solutions for rural communities.

The benefits of wind energy include its ability to generate clean, renewable energy that does not produce any emissions. Wind power is also cost-effective when compared to traditional sources of electricity and is less prone to price fluctuations. 

Additionally, the technology needed to generate wind energy is relatively straightforward and has proven to be highly efficient.

On the other hand, wind energy also has its disadvantages. High initial costs can be involved when constructing a wind farm, and local wildlife can be impacted negatively if the turbines are placed in ecologically sensitive areas. Additionally, wind speed can vary significantly throughout the day and location, making it difficult to accurately predict how much energy will be produced at any given time.

As more businesses turn to renewable sources of energy in an effort to reduce their environmental impact, and costs wind power is expected to continue to rise in popularity across Kenya. Innovative solutions for harnessing wind energy will continue to improve, allowing more households and businesses to access clean, affordable power. 

As more Kenyan companies invest in this sector, it is likely that we will see further technological advancements in the near future.

Renewable energy solutions

  • Hydro

Hydropower is a renewable energy source extracted from flowing water which is then converted into electricity. It is one of the oldest and most reliable forms of energy, and it is increasingly becoming popular in Kenya due to its numerous advantages.

Areas in Kenya that are used for hydro energy include the Masinga Dam in Eastern Province and the Turkwel Gorge Dam in Western Province. These dams help to generate around 15% of Kenya’s total power, with plans to expand the use of hydroelectricity in the future.

The pros of hydro energy in Kenya include greater availability of electricity throughout the country, reduced dependence on imported fuel, and increased job opportunities for the local population. 

Additionally, hydroelectricity does not produce any greenhouse gases or other pollutants, making it an environmentally friendly form of energy.

However, there are also some drawbacks to using hydroelectricity in Kenya. One disadvantage is that large-scale hydropower plants can have a negative impact on the local environment and aquatic life. 

Because hydroelectricity relies on a steady stream of water, changes in weather patterns due to climate change can significantly decrease production levels.

Kenyan companies that specialize in hydro energy include Hydro Consulting and Supply (HCS), K&K Energy Solutions, and Gennex Power Solutions. These companies offer a wide range of services, such as designing and constructing hydropower plants, offering technical assistance and maintenance services, and providing financial assistance for projects.

The future predictions and trends for hydro energy in Kenya show a positive outlook. As the population continues to grow, the demand for electricity will increase, which will require an expansion of hydropower sources. 

In addition, as more people become aware of the environmental benefits of hydroelectricity, the demand for it will continue to rise.

hydro power

  • Biomass

It is extracted from organic matter like wood, agricultural residues, forestry waste, and organic municipal waste. It can be used to generate electricity, heat, or biofuels like biodiesel, biogas, ethanol, or methane.

The extraction and conversion of biomass into energy can be done in a variety of ways. One way is through combustion, which involves burning biomass to produce heat. This heat is then used to turn a turbine, creating electricity. 

Another method is anaerobic digestion, which involves breaking down organic material without oxygen, resulting in the production of biogas. 

This biogas can be used to generate electricity or to power vehicles as a biofuel.

The main areas where biomass energy is being extracted are the Mau Forest Complex, East Pokot County, Mount Elgon National Park, and Samburu County. 

In addition to this, there are many companies in Kenya that specialize in the production of biomass energy. These include Genesys Limited, EGL Solar Solutions, Biomass Energy Ltd., The Renewable Energy Company Ltd., and Solargen Limited.

Looking ahead to the future of biomass energy in Kenya, it is predicted that its use will continue to grow. With more companies investing in biomass energy and increased investment in research and development into new technologies, the potential for biomass energy production is looking very promising.

Furthermore, with government initiatives like the Renewable Energy Strategy and Action Plan (RESAP), the demand for biomass energy is set to increase even further.

  • Geothermal

Kenya is among the top ten countries globally in geothermal energy production, with an installed capacity of approximately 838 MW. The Kenyan government aims to increase the installed capacity to 5,530MW by 2030. The geothermal fields in Kenya are located in the Rift Valley, which runs from the north to the south of the country. The main geothermal fields are Olkaria, Menengai, and Eburru.

There are several companies in Kenya that specialize in geothermal energy production. KenGen, a state-owned electricity generating company, is the largest producer of geothermal energy in Kenya, with an installed capacity of 698MW. Other companies that specialize in geothermal energy in Kenya include OrPower4, Quantum Power, and Sosian Energy.

Pros and Cons of Geothermal Energy to the Kenyan Environment

It is a clean source of energy that produces no greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, or toxic waste. Geothermal power plants have a small land footprint and can be built on previously disturbed or barren land. Geothermal energy is also a reliable source of energy that can operate 24/7, unlike wind and solar power, which are intermittent.

However, geothermal energy production can also have some negative environmental impacts. Drilling and construction of geothermal power plants can lead to soil erosion, land subsidence, and disturbance of natural habitats

The geothermal fluids used in the power generation process can also contain harmful chemicals such as mercury, arsenic, and boron, which can pollute groundwater and surface water.

Future Trends and Predictions of Geothermal Energy in Kenya

Kenya is the eighth-largest producer of geothermal energy in the world, and the largest in Africa, with a total installed capacity of over 1,630 MW. Here are some potential future predictions and trends for geothermal energy in Kenya:

  • Continued Growth: The geothermal sector in Kenya is expected to continue growing in the coming years. The government has set a target of generating 5,000 MW of geothermal energy by 2030, which would require significant investment in new geothermal projects.
  • Investment in New Projects: The Kenyan government is expected to continue investing in new geothermal projects, with a particular focus on the Rift Valley region. This could include new drilling projects and expanding existing geothermal power plants.
  • International Investment: Kenya has already attracted significant international investment in its geothermal sector, and this is expected to continue. For example, the African Development Bank recently approved a $120 million loan to help finance the construction of two new geothermal power plants in Kenya.
  • Development of Direct-Use Applications: In addition to electricity generation, there is also potential for the development of direct-use applications of geothermal energy in Kenya, such as for heating and cooling buildings, drying crops, and processing food. This could provide new opportunities for small businesses and rural communities.
  • Integration with Renewable Energy Systems: As the share of renewable energy in Kenya’s energy mix continues to grow, there will be an increasing need to integrate different sources of renewable energy. Geothermal energy is well-suited for this, as it can provide reliable, baseload power that can complement intermittent sources like wind and solar.

Overall, geothermal energy is expected to play an increasingly important role in Kenya’s energy mix in the coming years, and the sector is likely to see continued growth and investment.

With solutions such as geothermal, solar, and wind power, renewable energy has great potential to meet Kenya’s growing demand for energy.