Kenya Takes Leap of Faith in Renewable Power

Kenya Takes Leap of Faith in Renewable Power

As the world faces a climate emergency of unprecedented proportions, and with global greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) falling nowhere near fast enough to avoid massive harm from global warming, there has been a rallying call for countries to do everything in their power to take urgent action to decarbonise their economies.

One of the ways through which the world seeks to do this is through a transition to low-carbon energy sources. The electricity sector is in the thick of this major transformation.

Kenya, in its updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) — a set of efforts by each country to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change as per the 2015 Paris Agreement to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by mid-century, has come up with ambitious policies and measures to pursue its low emission climate-resilient development pathway in the realisation of Vision 2030.

It aims to abate greenhouse gas emissions by 32 percent by 2030 relative to the Business as Usual scenario of 143 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent with emission reduction potential from the energy sector of 48 million carbon dioxide equivalent, 9.32 million carbon dioxide equivalent of which will be in its power generation.

It is estimated that 35 percent of global emissions come from power production, making it the largest single source of global greenhouse gas emissions. Energy-related carbon emissions grew 1.7 percent in 2018 to reach a historic high of 33.1 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

In Kenya, in line with its ambitions, President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2018 committed to attaining 100 percent green energy sufficiency by 2022. That might not happen, but the country is seen as a pacesetter in terms of attaining renewable energy, particularly in Africa. It has the largest wind farm on the continent and is among leaders in the exploitation of geothermal energy.

According to secretary for renewable energy at the Ministry of Energy, Isaac Kiva, 75.65 percent of the installed electricity in Kenya is from renewable or clean sources, with the majority coming from hydroelectricity and geothermal power as of June 2021.

Installed electricity

Kenya still has 24.35 percent of its installed electricity from non-renewable sources, including gas turbine thermal plants and diesel thermal power plants. However, in terms of electricity dispatched to the grid, renewable energy accounts for more than 95 percent on average, as thermal power is normally used during peak demand periods.

From 2004 to 2011, increases in electricity supply […]

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