Commodities

Kenya to bar new solar, wind power producers without backup systems

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Kenya Electricity Generating Company PLC (KenGen) Chairman Lawyer Julius Migos Ogamba (right) and Principal Secretary, State Department for Energy Alex Wachira address journalists after attending KenGen 71st Annual General Meeting at Eka Hotel, Nairobi on November 30, 2023. PHOTO | LUCY WANJIRU | NMG

New producers of wind and solar power will need to install battery storage systems before they are allowed to supply the national grid in the latest plan to address frequent outages.

The Ministry of Energy said it was on course to implement the policy to block energy producers under the two categories who lack the Battery Energy Storage System (Bess) as a backup.

This comes at a time when the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) has announced plans to implement a 100-megawatt Bess project in 2024 as the implementing agent for the World Bank-funded project.

“That is meant to reduce the intermittencies and store power and use it for peaking, to reduce the venting out of our steam in Olkaria, especially at night because you can be able to continue generating, store that power and pass it to the grid during peak hours and the day,” said Energy PS Alex Wachira.

The Cabinet has already passed the resolution to have KenGen implement the project and the ministry says progress is at various stages.

“KenGen will implement the first but we are looking into PPPs to implement more battery energy storage moving forward. We have several Bess storages staggered between now and 2032.

“Moving forward, any variable renewable energy producer that we bring on board should be able to have battery backing to ensure that there is grid stability. That is a policy that the ministry wants to implement and ensure that, moving forward, any power plant that we bring on board, be it wind or solar, must have battery energy storage to ensure that there is grid stability,” said Mr Wachira.

KenGen said it was working with the World Bank to fast-track the 100-megawatt Bess project to address increasing electricity blackouts that have been witnessed in the recent past.

KenGen managing director Peter Njenga said the battery storage system would not only support the wind and solar plants but also geothermal plants that have been losing power at night when usage is low.

“We have challenges in the grid because of the intermittencies in the wind and the solar and that is going to play a critical role and even support excess generations in geothermal,” he said.

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