Wind power generation nears hydro levels

The Ministry of Energy is locked in a battle with Gitson Energy Plant over a proposed 300-megawatt wind plant set for construction in Marsabit County.

Photo credit: File Photo | AFP

Wind power generation in Kenya has cut by more than half the gap between it and hydropower supply to the national grid, as wind races to topple hydro as the second biggest source of power in East Africa’s largest economy.

The drop of hydropower, which was for decades Kenya’s most important source of electricity before it was overtaken by geothermal, follows a prolonged drought that significantly cut production from the country’s dams.

Official data from the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) shows that wind narrowed the gap to 306 Gigawatt hours (GWh) in the six months that ended December last year from 705.36 GWh the previous year.

A prolonged drought has cut water levels at two of the biggest dams to the lowest in three years, significantly cutting the amount of hydroelectricity generated.

The amount of wind-generated power grew to 1,148.6 GWh in the six months to December, an 8.5 percent jump from a similar period in 2021 while that of hydropower dropped 17 percent to 1,454.396 GWh in the period.

“The decrease in hydro energy generation between September and December is attributed to the poor hydro regime. Masinga and Turkwel hydropower plants, which have the largest reservoirs, recorded their lowest dam levels in three years,” Epra says in the latest industry report.

The declining generation from the hydro sources is also set to further contribute to higher power bills as the country taps thermal power to plug deficits, especially at peak demand.

Geothermal increased its lead, after its contribution to the energy mix grew to 45 percent from 40 percent in 2021, in a period that thermal was also losing ground after its contribution was cut down from 12 percent to 10 percent in 2022.

The country stepped up generation from geothermal sources to plug the deficit caused by the drop in hydropower production.

The data shows that Kenya generated 3,034.95 GWh of electricity from the geothermal wells in the six months that ended last December, cementing its share in the energy mix to 45.5 percent from 2470.55 GWh or 40.02 percent the previous year.

Kenya generated 6,670.887 GWh in the six months to last December, up from 6,173.48 GWh in a similar period the previous year.

Hydropower had for years been the biggest contributor to Kenya’s energy mix. Kenya has for the past five years experienced poor rains, and depleting water levels in Masinga and other dams.

The country has been ramping up investments in wind, geothermal and solar energy sources in a shift to clean power and also to make up for the declining levels of hydroelectricity.

Kenya is keen on a 100 percent transition to clean energy by 2030 as it strives to cut pollution.

PAYE Tax Calculator

Note: The results are not exact but very close to the actual.