Renewable Energy, Wind

Kenya looks to expand wind energy program

Kenya plans to scale up its wind energy as part of an effort to increase the use of renewable energy in the country on a large scale.

According to an announcement from the World Wind Energy Association (WWEA), a delegation from the Kenyan government recently undertook a study tour through Germany and Denmark to consult with wind power professionals, government officials and scientists on optimizing a national wind power strategy.

In the delegation were representatives of Kenya’s energy ministry and energy regulatory commission as well as the Kenya Power and Lighting Co. They visited wind power developers, operators and equipment manufacturers, government agencies, research and training facilities and trade associations.

The tour was part of a program organized by Indian project developer and service provider WinDForce Management, which has been contracted to evaluate Kenya’s wind resources and to propose a wind energy development plan and prospectus for the nation.

Isaac Kiva, acting director for renewable energy at Kenya’s energy ministry, said: “Kenya intends to increase its power sector in the near future substantially, primarily by expanding the use of renewable energy. Wind power has to play a key role in this, and we have been glad to hear from the practical experience in Germany and Denmark.”

The energy ministry has recently announced an ambitious plan, called 5000+ Megawatts for transforming Kenya, intended to increase the country’s power generation by 5 GW in less than four years, with wind power contributing a substantial amount of the new capacity. The plan also aims to retire diesel generators from the electricity mix and reduce Kenya’s dependence on hydropower, which can be affected by lack of rainfall.

“The study tour helped us to understand and appreciate the necessary policy and regulatory frameworks,” Kiva said, “as well as other key drivers for effective wind energy development programs.

“Key elements of the tour were the understanding of advancement in wind energy grid integration technologies and arrangements, which make it possible to inject higher percentages of wind than previously conservatively stated,” he continued.

Kenya’s total installed power generation capacity is currently 1,700 MW, according to the energy regulatory commission. Hydropower accounts for 60 percent of electricity generation, while in 2012 wind, along with cogeneration, contributed 1.5 percent of the nation’s electricity mix. The largest fuel source in the country is wood at 68 percent, followed by oil at 20 percent.

Stefan Gsänger, WWEA secretary general, said: “Given that Kenya is setting up the right policies in the near future, the country is about to become the wind power hub of Eastern Africa. Considering the potential market size of several thousands of megawatts, Kenya may soon attract domestic as well as international investors in this sector on a large scale.”

Utility KenGen currently provides over 80 percent of Kenya’s electricity. The government’s plan includes strategies for attracting new investors to the power sector.