Economy

Kenya electricity capacity crosses 3,000MW mark

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The Cabinet has ordered a split of Kenya’s electricity transmission system to ensure that a power failure in one part does not affect the whole country. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Kenya added 102.34 megawatts to its installed capacity for electricity generation in the 2021/22 financial year boosting the efforts to provide stable power at a time peak demand hit a fresh high.

Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) data shows Kenya’s installed capacity stood at 3,074.34 megawatts as of last June, up from 2,972 megawatts the previous year.

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The increase was due to the addition of four plants supplying the national grid.

“The installed capacity increased by 102.34 megawatts from 2,972 megawatts as of June 2021 to 3,074 megawatts as of June 2022. Geothermal and solar generation increased by 86 megawatts and 120 megawatts, respectively,” says Epra in the report.

Installed capacity refers to the maximum amount of electricity that a power plant can generate for onward supply to the national grid.

The plants that were added to the grid are 86 megawatts from the Olkaria 1 unit 6, the 40 megawatts Selenkei Solar plant, the 40 megawatts Malindi Solar plant and another 40 megawatts from the Cedate Solar power plant.

The increase in installed capacity came at a time peak demand hit a high of 2,057 megawatts on June 14 last year from 1,993.63 megawatts a year earlier as economic activities remained on a steady rise on easing of the coronavirus-induced curbs.

Kenya has traditionally relied on thermal power plants to boost supply at peak demand for electricity or during prolonged droughts that significantly hurts hydro production.

Kenya Power is also racing to ensure reliable supply to its increasing number of customers. Epra data shows that the State-owned power utility added 703,331 customers to the national grid in the last financial year, the highest addition in a single year since June 2017 when 1.31 million customers joined the national grid.

But the installed capacity for thermal power plants dropped 21.02 percent to 646.32 megawatts in the review period following the retirement of Tsavo Power whose purchase contract lapsed in September 2021.

Kenya is keen to cut the use of thermal power in a bid to reduce environmental pollution and is counting on increased supply from solar, geothermal and wind.

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The country also started importing electricity from neighbouring Ethiopia last November to ensure enough supply at peak demand besides lowering the cost of electricity.

Nairobi signed a 27-year power-sharing deal with Ethiopia in which Kenya Power started importing electricity at lower tariffs last November.

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