NMG & KenGen host Sustainable Energy Conference

Kenya is ready, and must continue pushing for transition from the traditional to smart and sustainable grids to lower the cost of living and drive its current and future energy demand. Energy sector players blame the crises in the country and globally  on extensive use of finite energy sources like fossil fuels, which
have exacerbated climate change and its effects.

The skyrocketing fuel prices and the high cost of living in Kenya, for example, reflect the fragility of the sector and calls for swift action, according to Energy CS Monica Juma. The CS stresses the need for governments to invest in sustainable energy, as the price of crude oil is at an unprecedented level globally
and that the high pump prices are not unique to Kenya. “The situation globally underscores the need for harnessing renewable energy sources,” Dr Juma
said in Naivasha, during the Sustainable Energy Conference.

She also said that global warming continues to threaten communities across the continent, and that it is critical that African nations act to improve energy access while supporting economic growth without compromising the environment. The country has made great strides in the exploration of green energy, making it one of the top geothermal energy producers, she said.

Geothermal The Renewables 2022 Global Status Report ranked Kenya third largest geothermal energy capacity in the world between 2016 and 2021, after Turkey and Indonesia, having grown its steam power by 0.2GW (200 MW) in the five-year period under review. Currently, over 80per cent of Kenya’s geothermal capacity is owned and operated by the Kenya Electricity Generating Company, (KenGen). It’s geothermal capacity currently stands at 713Mw.

Earlier last week, the government-owned firm added 83 megawatts of electricity to the national grid, boosting the government’s capacity to provide affordable
power to consumers. Mrs Miano said the plant boosts the firm’s share of installed geothermal capacity to 42 per cent. She said during the Sustainable
Energy Conference in Naivasha that Africa is one of the regions that could benefit most from investing in clean energy resources. “The continent’s true potential as a global leader in renewables has been overshadowed by its dependency on fossil fuels, especially coal, which accounts for much of Africa’s total installed generation capacity,” she says.

In 2020, for instance, only nine per cent of the energy generated in Africa was from renewable sources. More than 90 per cent came from other sources like
thermal and coal. “Our country has prioritised the climate action agenda and we have played a significant role in drafting plans for sustainable development.
“Last year’s COP26 Climate Summit gave us an opportunity to share our expertise with other nations and make a commitment to reducing greenhouse gas
(GHG) emissions by 30 per cent by 2030,” she said

She said that as part of green energy generation, KenGen is implementing six Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects, which offset 4,617,309 tonnes of Carbon dioxide equivalent (Carbon Credits) annually. They include the Olkaria II Geothermal Expansion, Redevelopment of Tana Hydro Power Station,
Optimisation of Kiambere Hydro Power, Olkaria IV Geothermal, Olkaria I Units 4 and 5 Geothermal and the Ngong Wind project.

The conference—an initiative of the Nation Media Group, KenGen and the Ministry of Energy- drew participants from the government, the energy sector,
and financial institutions and aimed at coming up with measures of addressing challenges that hamper scale-up in the generation and use of clean energy.

Nation Media Group chief executive officer Stephen Gitagama said some of the key outcomes of the conference will inform the Africa position going into COP27 in Egypt later this year. “We want to ensure the conversations held here do not come to an end as we walk out of this plenary session, and as such, we
commit to driving the climate change agenda across all our platforms,” he said, adding that NMG would continue to host the conference and ensure it becomes
a turning point to lay out detailed action plans.

The conference comes at a time when the government is banking on increased power supply from KenGen, whose charges are lower than those of independent power producers, and the government is pushing to implement a 15 per cent cut on power tariffs. A kilowatt-hour of geothermal goes for between Sh5.9 to Sh6.7, while a similar unit of thermal power costs Sh30.8 on average.

Kenya Power buys at least 46 per cent—equivalent to Sh41.1 billion— of its electricity from KenGen. Kenya Power acting managing director Geoffrey Muli said
the company’s customer base has grown by over 250per cent to more than 8.4 million, adding that the electricity access stands at 70 per cent, positioning Kenya as an energy thought leader within sub-Saharan Africa.

On clean energy revolution, Eng. Muli said Kenya today has a rich variety of renewable energy sources, including geothermal, wind and solar, which, together
with hydro, contribute over 92 per cent of the energy mix. “Kenya Power has constructed stand-alone thermal-powered, mini-grids to serve Kenyans
who haven’t been reached by the main grid,” he said.

You can access the full conference REPORT HERE