Image courtesy of KenGen

Kenya Electricity Generating Company Plans To Install 3000 MW of Additional Renewable Generation Capacity

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Kenya Electricity Generating Company PLC (KenGen) has an installed generation capacity of 1,904 MW, of which over 86% is drawn from green sources, namely: hydro (826 MW), geothermal (799 MW), and wind (25.5 MW).  The rest (253 MW),  is generated from fossil fuels at its thermal power plants. KenGen is the largest power generating company in Kenya. There are several independent power producers as well in Kenya, and the country’s total installed capacity is now 3,000 MW. Last year, 89% of the total electricity generated in Kenya was from renewables, with KenGen spearheading Kenya’s clean electricity sector.

KenGen now wants to supercharge Kenya’s path to the adoption of more renewables and help meet the county’s target of generating electricity from 100% renewables by 2030. Speaking from KenGen’s Stima Plaza Headquarters in Nairobi, Ag. Managing Director and CEO Abraham Serem said the company had revamped its corporate strategy and rolled out a 10-year strategy that seeks to add 3,000 MW within the next 10 years. This will see Kenya’s installed generation capacity doubling to 6,000 MW. He further added that the company will be seeking to rehabilitate its existing power plants to make them more efficient for sustainable generation.

“The Board approved a ten-year corporate strategy last year and we are now ready to roll it out in this new year 2023 having developed a robust implementation plan to lead us in the next frontier of our business growth,” said Mr. Serem.

Mr. Serem added that KenGen would be looking to tap into the vast potential of geothermal energy in the Rift Valley region, which is estimated to be about 10,000 MW of clean and renewable energy. “So far we have only exploited about 0.9GW of the 10GW geothermal potential and that is why a huge chunk of the additional capacity will be drawn from geothermal,” said Mr. Serem adding, “Our focus going forward is to secure the baseload capacity to stabilize Kenya’s energy supply mainly from green renewable energy.”

KenGen’s new plan will be driven largely by deploying up to 2000 MW, drawn from geothermal and hydro sources, as baseload power to stabilize the country’s energy sources, thereby diversifying away from expensive thermal sources.

At the same time, KenGen, which is listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE), says it has put in place plans to optimize the existing hydro sources even as it pushes for the development of new hydropower stations, and expansion of existing ones, particularly within the Tana River basin.

The Ag. CEO of KenGen singled out the upcoming 305 MW geothermal projects, with 280 MW coming from Olkaria and 25 MW from the Eburru geothermal power plant, for which he said construction would commence immediately after getting the requisite approvals. Kenya is already in the top ten in the world when it comes to installed geothermal electricity generation capacity.

With a great potential of 10 GW for geothermal, it is really great to see Kenya move to unlock this potential. Private developers are now also working on the Menengai field. Globeleq, a leading private power company in Africa, recently announced that it has signed financing agreements with the African Development Bank (AfDB) (as mandated lead arranger), the Eastern and Southern African Trade & Development Bank (TDB) and Finnfund, with regard to the $72 million debt funding for the 35 MW Menengai geothermal project in Nakuru County, Kenya.

KenGen also plans to leverage on new technology to rehabilitate its oldest geothermal power plant, the 45 MW Olkaria I, to give it a new life and increase its generation capacity to more than 60 MW.

“We will also be rolling out plans to up-rate the turbines for the Olkaria I additional units 4 and 5 and Olkaria IV power plants to increase their output by an additional 40MW,” said Mr. Serem, adding that all this was part of the wider plan to stabilize Kenya’s energy supply and catalyze the country’s economic growth. On the western side of the country, KenGen has announced plans to rehabilitate its Gogo hydropower plant to increase its capacity by about 8 MW from the current 2 MW. This is expected to contribute to the stability of the power supply in the western region.

“Going forward, we will be seeking to enlist new drilling fields for geothermal after successful drilling expeditions in the existing fields,” said Mr. Serem, adding, “the acquisition of new fields will be one of the major initiatives for us in the new year as we seek to take advantage of the 10GW geothermal potential in the country.” KenGen, as the leader in the East African region, has been more active in getting the region to go geothermal as well. KenGen will continue with its commercial drilling projects in the Horn of Africa, namely Ethiopia and Djibouti, where the company has drilled several geothermal wells, with the latest one being the first of three wells successfully completed in November 2022 at Gale le Koma geothermal site in Djibouti.

“We are happy to see our teams deliver the same level of success in other countries as we do here at home in Olkaria where we have also drilled more than 320 geothermal wells to depths of 3,000 meters,” said Mr. Serem, adding, “In geothermal drilling, successful drilling of the first well is a major milestone as it gives the engineers and scientists more insights of the terrain to inform the drilling of the successive wells.”

The Ag. CEO went on to state: “We are also deliberately increasing our efficiencies in power plant Operations and Maintenance by training our staff to upskill and re-tool them to competently manage our existing power plants and also seek to give support to other organizations and countries in the region should the need arise.”

With this generation expansion plan, as well as unlocking efficiencies and increasing generation capacity at its existing plants, KenGen is also positioning itself to catalyze the electric mobility sector in Kenya. KenGen recently launched its plan to lead Kenya’s transition from gasoline-powered vehicles to electric vehicles as another way of combating climate change while solving transportation challenges in the country. To launch the project, KenGen unveiled its first four electric vehicles (EVs) in Nairobi last month in a move to support its diversification ambitions in the e-mobility sector. The four vehicles, which include two SUVs and two double-cabin pickups, will primarily be used for data collection and policy development as the company prepares to install over 30 EV charging stations across the country in 2023.


Image courtesy of KenGen

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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai

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.

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