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Economy

State plans two more hydro-electric power dams on Tana River

An aerial view of Masinga power station. Two more dams - Mutonga and Karura falls - with a potential to generate up to 700 megawatts (MW) of power are set to be built on the Tana River. Photo/File
An aerial view of Masinga power station. Two more dams - Mutonga and Karura falls - with a potential to generate up to 700 megawatts (MW) of power are set to be built on the Tana River. Photo/File 

Two more dams with a potential to generate up to 700 megawatts (MW) of power are set to be built on the Tana River, bringing to seven the number of power generators along the country’s major reservoir.

The two - Mutonga and Karura falls - will be developed separately by KenGen and the Tana and Athi River Development Authority (Tarda), one of the six regional development authorities.

“Investors have told us that they can develop the area and produce power for $0.20 per kilowatt hour at the high gradient areas,” said Energy PS Patrick Nyoike.

On Tuesday, Tarda said it was also seeking funds to upgrade the High Grand Falls at Mutonga with a catchment area extending to 100,000 square kilometres.

“Mutonga is a multi-purpose dam for domestic and agricultural use. We are seeking approvals and also fund raising at the same time,” said Tarda managing director Francis Agoya.

Both projects -listed as flagship projects under Vision 2030 economic blueprint are currently being promoted by the Kenya Investment Authority, the government’s investment arm.

The PS and the Tarda MD did not give time lines for implementing the twin projects, which are expected to boost agriculture, power generation (from the current 453MW to 800MW), drinking water supply to a population of 15 million, and help manage perennial flooding in the area.

The Karura dam being promoted by KenGen will be built between Kiambere and Kindaruma dams. Presently- three other dams – Masinga, Gitaru and Kamburu exist along the line.

Water dams generate nearly half of the total power generated and, at full capacity, together with Turkwell and Sondu can generate up to 74 per cent of the national power needs.

KenGen managing director Eddy Njoroge said more sources of power need to be developed to reduce dependence on one catchment area.

“We need to build other sources of power and use hydro for peaking only and not for base load. Geothermal is as cheap and we need to explore more,” Mr Njoroge said in a telephone interview.

The draft National Energy Policy puts undeveloped hydro-electric power potential oat 1,449 megawatts.

The installed hydro capacity is 767 megawatts or half of the1,400 megawatts power capacity against a peak demand of 1,300 megawatts.

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