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Published on August 11th, 2020 | by Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai

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Kenya’s Electricity Generation Company KenGen To Set Up Public EV Charging Stations

August 11th, 2020 by  


More and more people in Africa really should be driving electric. We have shown just how good driving electric can be across 38 African countries. Driving electric is cheaper than driving ICE vehicles in Africa, as covered in part 1, part 2, and part 3

Nissan e-NV200 electric green delivery Kenya

Nissan e-NV200 electric green delivery van in Kenya.

One of the best places to be driving electric is Kenya. You can find some of our articles on the recent developments in the Kenyan electromobility space in the articles below:

  1. Affordable Electric Micro-Mobility Solutions Are Empowering Low Income Communities In Kenya
  2. EVs & PV — A Match Made In Heaven
  3. Drivelectric Kenya’s Partnership With Food Delivery Firm Greenspoon Shows Why Electric Vans Are Perfect for Kenya
  4. Drivelectric Kenya Shows Why You Should Be Driving An Electric Vehicle in Kenya!
  5. All Electric Taxi-Hailing Service Nopia Looks To Scale Up In Kenya
  6. EV Conversions Go Mainstream in Kenya
  7. Nairobi VW eGolf Experience
by Hideki Machida.Anheuser-Busch InBev’s South African Breweries

Anheuser-Busch electric delivery truck in South Africa. Image by Hideki Machida.

As you can see, the Kenyan EV space is shaping up quite nicely. Now Kenya’s electricity generation company, KenGen, wants to take things up another notch and help accelerate EV adoption by setting up public charging stations. KenGen has been looking at diversifying its revenue streams for a while now by offering other services that include selling geothermal steam to flower farms in Naivasha, and drilling geothermal wells for other firms and tourism services, such as running its geothermal Spa in Olkaria.

Kenya’s electricity retailing firm Kenya Power also recently announced plans to commercialize its motor vehicle repair and servicing garages as well as leasing out idle land in an attempt to boost revenues. The EV charging business is certainly going to be gamechanger for KenGen and Kenya Power on the revenue side. First of all, they will already have anchor clients with their own fleets! Utility companies own thousands of vehicles, and electrifying those will also cut down their massive petrol and diesel bills. Opening up public charging networks will certainly give KenGen the much needed boost as they have been desperately looking for ways to increase electricity consumption which had been depressed even before the coronavirus pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge effect in further reducing the demand for electricity, according to the Ministry of Energy, which is quoted in Business Daily saying that “restrictions imposed to limit the spread of Covid-19 like night curfew had reduced demand for electricity. Demand for electricity dropped 15.3 percent to 645.29 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) in April as the global coronavirus pandemic hit consumer demand and forced firms and industries to cut back on their operations.”

Suppressed demand will have a significant impact on the utility company’s revenues. In a bid to spur demand, the Ministry of Energy is also encouraging households to cook a bit more with electric stoves! Urban households in Kenya have adopted LPG for cooking en masse as it is a more cost effective option as compared to using electric stoves at the current residential tariffs of about $0.23 cents/kWh. There is a very efficient LPG retailing system where LPG retailers have a huge and successful network already where consumers go and swap out cooking gas cylinders whenever they runout. Several startups also offer door-to-door deliveries for these LPG cylinders.

Electric vehicles could be the savior here by providing a new channel to soak up some of that excess electricity. This will also be a new revenue stream for the power utility as cars charge up at homes and other compounds all through the night. The utility should really accelerate the rollout of charging infrastructure to support adoption of EVs. 

Large electricity consumers are on a “Low Rate Tariff” at night and fleet operators could get enhanced savings on their operating expenses by charging their fleets during the night at their depots by taking advantage of the cheaper electricity. Most of these vehicles would be parked at the depots at night anyway!

Kenya’s grid has a nice electricity generation mix that is 93% renewable. This mix includes significant contributions from wind farms, geothermal power plants, hydropower, and some utility-scale solar. Emissions from the transport sector therefore contribute a significant portion of Kenya’s total emissions, and cleaning up the country’s vehicle fleet will then have the most impact in reducing emissions, as discussed previously here and here.

WeTu E-Cargo bike. Picture by Nambuya Imbega

WeTu e-cargo bike. Image by Nambuya Imbega.

 
 


 


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About the Author

Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.



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