Letters

What youth must do for clean energy mix

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Steam pipes at the geothermal wells in Olkaria KENGEN power stations, Naivasha, Nakuru County on June 2020. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • Innovation and expansion of renewable sources is vital to maintaining a sustainable level of energy and protecting our planet from climate change. Innovation of off-grid systems is a potential area that has several untapped joints.
  • Youth contribute to change by their involvement in pushing for the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to ensure a smooth transition to clean energy, hence healthy nation.
  • They can also be advocates of clean and reliable energy solutions wherever they are so that the campaign and goal and be embraced by many individuals and organisations.

Everyone eyes comfortable life, as relative as it is. Some link it to ease of accessing infrastructure such as energy sources. Finding the perfect grip of sustainable and clean energy is a rare gem in Kenya especially in the rural set-up.

In Kenya, rural set-ups, urban poor and informal settlements depend on fossil fuels. The 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census report shows 55.1 percent of Kenyan households use firewood for cooking followed by liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) at 23.9 percent.

According to Africa Energy Outlook 2019, Kenya is one of the few countries to develop geothermal energy that by 2040 will account for almost 50 percent of Kenya’s power generation.

Solar power use is spreading across Kenya, especially in the rural areas. More than 200,000 homes in rural Kenya are powered by solar energy thanks to the rising private sector investment.

Kenya’s rich geothermal sources have not been harvested as expected as power demand keeps rising. Renewable energy is at our disposal and so implementation or exploiting the sources remains a key goal.

Affordability is one of the headaches for the masses who need power at home and in their small enterprises.

The high cost of connection and continual use is made worse by uneven deployment, poor communication that hurts decision making have pushed many into using potentially harmful sources of energy.

The growing demand for energy generated by the growing population has brought about a surge and uneven distribution, hence an unreliable power supply characterised by fluctuations and power outages.

VISION 2030

Under the least-cost power development plan, Kenya is focusing on development of geothermal and hydroelectric plans.

There is, however, little penetration of some other valuable renewable sources that would fill the gap in the uptake of clean energy sources to meet Kenya’s Vision 2030 goal of achieving double-digit economic growth.

Biogas has little to no uptake in Kenya's energy sector. Kenya Biogas Program reports that penetration of biogas systems in Kenya is low.

Since its inception in 1952 in Kenya as a system for waste management in the farms, it’s only about 23,000 households that are using this source of energy.

The technical demand for this source of energy is slightly above 2.3 million with an effective demand of only 10 percent of this.

There is an opportunity to explore this resource and deliver a clean environment for a safer tomorrow.

According to Clean Cooking Association of Kenya (CCAK), the kitchen has pushed us to find affordable yet dangerous sources of energy costing us about 21,500 deaths in Kenya due to health complications brought about by use of firewood and charcoal.

Innovation and expansion of renewable sources is vital to maintaining a sustainable level of energy and protecting our planet from climate change. Innovation of off-grid systems is a potential area that has several untapped joints.

Kenya is a youthful nation, but many of the youth lack jobs, contributing to the slow growth of the economy among other factors.

The youth should be cognizant of this and act accordingly.

Youth contribute to change by their involvement in pushing for the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to ensure a smooth transition to clean energy, hence healthy nation.

SUSTAINABLE USE

The youth have the ability to grasp concepts and acquire skills faster than anybody else. Through creativity and innovation, they can create solutions and hence employment.

They can also be advocates of clean and reliable energy solutions wherever they are so that the campaign and goal and be embraced by many individuals and organisations.

With energy transition and the need to implement usage of clean sources of energy being an area of potential growth, the youth have got great opportunity to tap on for sustainable living and achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 7 and 13 by 2030.

Better yet, young leaders can be involved in the global decision making about sustainable energy use.

Olivia Auma Otieno, Programmes, Advocacy and Fundraising officer