Energy in Kenya
Since independence, the energy sector has grown in leaps and bounds as the country strives to ﬁnd sustainable and eco-friendly energy to power growth.
Kenya plans to generate 5,000MW of power by 2016, more than double the current supply of 1,664MW. The demand for power is estimated at 1,700MW. The deficit is responsible for the high power costs the Government is keen to reduce to make Kenyan goods Competitive. The high power price can be attributed to the fact that 40 per cent of supply is generated by diesel plants run by private ﬁrms.
To bridge the gap, the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum has developed a roadmap to reduce reliance on hydro-power which contributes 50 per cent of electricity. The strategy includes generating 1,646MW of geothermal from the current 241MW, 1,050MW gas (current nil), and wind power 630MW (current 5.1MW).
Kenya has made great strides in the energy sector in the recent years. Many homes that had no electricity now do.
This has been possible because the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) set a target of 150,000 new connections a year.This figure has since been revised upwards to 200,000.
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Schools and crop buying and shopping centres get priority in power connection. As a result, businesses – milling, welding,hair dressing and Internet, among others have been set up in rural areas and small markets where electricity has been connected for the first time. Manyjobs have thus been created.
Kenya has for long depended on hydropower for electricity needs. But investment has also gone into alternative sources of energy, especially geothermal and wind.
About 15 per cent of the population has access to electricity. The KPLC targets to raise to 20 per cent the rural population with access to electricity by 2015 and 40 per cent by 2025. Access to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is 7.8 per cent of the population. Although this is expected to rise, use of LPG for cooking will depend more on incomes than on interventions.
Implementation of the provisions relevant to household energy will lead to significant environmental gains, including curbs on climate change, lower ozone toxicity and less respiratory infections. lt will also potentially lead to significant conservation of land, wood fuel and income.
Overview of Energy in Kenya
The discovery of oil in Turkana in March, 2012, fits in the new plan that is part of Vision 2030.
The oil well at Ngamia-l (block 10BB) in Turkana Was the climax of a journey that started in the 1950s, punctuated with many misses from explorations in North Eastern and Eastern provinces.
The Government, through the National Oil Corporation of Kenya (NOCK), has gazetted 46 blocks for exploration, out of which 44 have been licensed to 23 international oil firms. Two are still open to interested oil companies.
Thirty-nine Wells had been drilled and three (Ngamia – 1 Block 10BB), Twiga South – 1 Block 13T) and Etuko – 1 Block 10BB) have sufficient reserves for commercial venture.
Tullow, which is spearheading the exploration, has confirmed that oil at Twiga South – 1 (block 13T) Well, Which is 30km from Ngamia – l well, is commercially viable. Tests indicate that the Wells could produce up to 5,200 barrels of crude a day, which is about 800,000 Litres of oil a clay.
The breakthrough further crowned efforts of a number of stakeholders including the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, National Oil Corporation, KenGen and Geothermal Development Company, which are mandated to ensure reliable, clean and sufficient sources of energy.
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As Kenya prepares to become an oil-driven economy, contributions from coal at Mui Basin in is set to change the supply and cost of power. The Ministry of Energy estimates Mui Basin has coal deposits that would last for 50 years. The mining fields are divided into blocks A, B, C and D. Block C, where, Chinese firm Fenxi Mining Group won mining rights, has about 400 million metric tonnes of coal, which can generate 2,800MW of electricity for 30 years.
The coal deposits are valued at about Kshs3.4 trillion. The value of coal reserves in other blocks is yet to be determined, but indications are clear that Kenya is set to become a major player in the energy sector in the region and the world.
Just like oil, prospecting for coal began in the 1950s after the colonial administration identified Mui Basin as a potential coal mine.
The Ministry for Energy and Petroleum has also stepped up efforts to increase development of a variety of sources of energy including Wind, geothermal, solar and hydropower. Other prospects include exploration of natural gas and development of nuclear energy. Gas and oil prospector, Pancontinental, struck major natural gas deposits in Malindi, raising hopes that Kenya could soon start mining gas.
The Australian firm said the deposits at Mbawa-1 Well found about 52 metres of gas which is commercially viable.
On the other hand, efforts for Kenya to produce nuclear energy are ongoing. The Government established Nuclear Electricity Project Committee in 2010 to spear-head nuclear energy generation.
Nuclear energy is one of the best methods to produce clean, cheap, safe and reliable electricity. This, alongside renewable energy sources like solar and geothermal, will play a huge role in reducing carbon emissions.
Kenya’s has a rapidly rising demand for energy. For instance in May 2012, maximum daily demand for electricity reached a peak of 1,236MW, up from 1,072MW in 2011.
In 2000, demand stood at 708MW. There are more than 2.1 million homes and businesses served by Kenya Power. At independence, the number of businesses and homes on the national grid was a paltry 80,000.
Kenya could save $71 million (Kshs6.2 billion) per year by substituting 12 per cent (10 per cent of gasoline and two per cent of diesel) of its imports with locally produced biofuels. The country could produce 27,400 MT (32 million litres) of biodiesel annually utilising 50,000 hectares of land.
Jatropha has been identiﬁed as the main feedstock for biodiesel production, but other sources include castor, coconut, croton, rapeseed and sunﬂower.
There is a lot of focus on renewable energy. Local companies, such as Mumias Sugar, and other international investors, have shown great interest in bio—fuel. A draft national biofuel policy strategy was published in 2012. The draft strategy aims at increasing accessibility to energy (through biofuel production) and reducing carbon emissions.