Although Kenya has a vast wealth of “clean fuels” – from geothermal energy, to wind, solar and biomass, the country has for years depended heavily on petroleum and this has had an adverse effect on her economy.
Moreover, the use of petroleum is accompanied by emissions of large quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere —a process that accelerates the greenhouse effect and subsequent global warming and climate change.
The frequent geopolitical tensions in major oil and gas countries has seen many petroleum consumers worldwide mulling over the idea of harnessing power from renewable energy sources.
Fortunately, Kenya has for the past few years taken a major step towards advancing renewable energy – with several projects by both the government and private sector promising to double the country’s production of clean energy from its current capacity of about 1,300 megawatts to 3,000 megawatts by 2013.
Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen), the largest power producer in the country, is playing a major role in developing clean energy. The company has partnered with Belgium’s TPF-Econoler SA to build Kenya’s first wind power plant in Ngong hills, near Nairobi. There are plans to expand the 5.1-megawatt facility to 25.5 megawatts by the December 2012. The state-owned power producer is also working on other projects that could see Kenya’s wind power capacity increase to 50 megawatts within three years.
Lake Turkana Wind Power Project, easily the most ambitious green energy venture in Africa, is expected to inject 300 megawatts into the national grid when it reaches full generating capacity by end of 2013. Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP) – a German consortium – has leased 66,000 hectares in Loiyangalani near Lake Turkana (the world’s largest permanent desert lake). The consortium will use the latest wind turbine technology to provide reliable and continuous clean power. And that’s not all. Lake Turkana Wind Power Project is expected to generate US$25 million annually from the sale of carbon credits!
And as LTWP continue ‘chasing the wind’ (but for a handsome profit), a newly established and state owned Geothermal Development Company is now set to begin drilling for geothermal energy at the Menengai Crater (30km from Nakuru town) in October this year. The Sh60 billion geothermal project is expected to generate 400 MW by 2014 and increase to 800 MW by 2016 and 1000 MW by 2018. The company also plans to set up hot baths and spas that are a major tourist attraction in places such New Zealand and Iceland.
These projects are indeed very commendable, and according to the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon the country may soon become sufficient in low-carbon and resource-efficient energy to power a “green economy”.
Speaking last year when he toured the Olkaria Geothermal Plant near Naivasha, Mr Ki-Moon said he was very impressed by how Kenya is tapping the volcanic heat of the Great Rift Valley to generate electricity, terming the initiative as a ‘remarkable story’ not just in terms of renewable energy and climate change but in partnership for development.