Kenya has done really well to increase the penetration of renewables in its electricity generation mix. Kenya has an installed electricity generation capacity of 3 077 MW. Renewables provided 89% of Kenya’s electricity generation in 2021 thanks to contributions from geothermal, wind, hydro, and some utility-scale solar. Kenya is one of the major players in the geothermal space and is in the top 10 in the world when it comes to geothermal generation installed capacity.
In a bid to build on this, 6 projects worth KES 500 billion ($4.1 billion) will be fast-tracked to accelerate the flow of climate finance into Kenya after the UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and President Ruto met at the COP27 climate summit in Sharm-el-Sheik, Egypt. The six projects will become flagship projects of the UK-Kenya Strategic Partnership — an ambitious five-year agreement that is unlocking mutual benefits for the UK and Kenya.
The 1,000 MW Grand High Falls Dam, under a KES 425 billion ($3.5 billion) public-private partnership, will be the anchor project of the program. In addition to generating a gigawatt of renewable power, the dam will provide an area over twice the size of the Maasai Mara with drought-combating irrigation solutions. East Africa is currently experiencing a severe drought and these kinds of projects will be very critical in addressing challenges in the agricultural sector.
A new geothermal plant at Menegai, as well as an expansion of the solar energy generation plant in Malindi, will be the other key projects. A green regeneration project of central Nairobi anchored around a new central rail station, and a Ksh 32 billion investment in a climate-resilient agriculture hub for the Lake Victoria region in Kisumu that will create 2,000 direct jobs and provide an income for a further 20,000 farmers, will be the other projects. The UK government will commit KES 2 billion to a new guarantee company that will lower investment risk and unlock KES 12 billion in climate finance for Kenyan projects over the next 3 years, through collaboration with CPF Financial Services and other private investors.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak praised Kenya’s climate leadership and urged Kenya to continue along the path of green growth, urging all countries to deliver on the commitments made at COP26 in Glasgow. In his inaugural address a few months ago after being sworn in as Kenya’s 5th President, President Ruto reaffirmed Kenya’s commitment to transition to 100% clean energy by 2030.
British High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriott, said, “The UK and Kenya go far when we go together. By fast-tracking finance into these clean, green projects with honest, reliable investment the UK is supporting Kenya to advance and maintain its continent-leading climate credentials – with mutual benefits for both our countries.”
Kenya’s Great Rift Valley has an estimated geothermal potential of 10,000 MW. This dependable clean energy potential puts Kenya in a great position to get to 100% from renewables very quickly. As the economy grows, electricity from geothermal can be a key anchor. We hope to see some growth in the utility-scale solar space as well. The solar sector still only contributes 1% to the total generation. Energy storage will be key to integrating variable renewables such as solar and wind in Kenya. A 40 MW solar plant in Malindi, constructed by UK company Globeleq with finance from British International Investment, will be doubled in size as part of this program. Battery storage will be added to the plant and will be the first utility-scale battery project in the country.
It’s always good to hear of these nice announcements. A lot of them are well timed around big events like CO27, but not many are usually followed up with action quickly. We hope to see some action on this UK-Kenya Partnership in the near future.
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