President William Ruto was sworn in as the 5thth the President of the Republic of Kenya. In his address shortly after being sworn in as president, he reaffirmed Kenya’s commitment to moving to 100% clean energy by 2030.
Kenya has already done well in increasing the share of renewable energy in its electricity generation mix. According to the latest economic survey by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), in 2021, Kenya’s total installed electricity generation capacity increased by 5.4% to 2,990 MW. Total effective capacity increased by 5.6% to 2,858 MW in the same period. The KNBS report defines the effective capacity as the maximum electrical power that the power plant is expected to achieve given the current operating limits. Total electricity production increased by 7.0% to 12,414.7 GWh in 2021, and the good news is that 89.6% of that electricity was produced from renewable sources!
Here are some highlights from President Ruto’s address today:
“Among the main concerns of my government will be climate change. In our country, women and men, youth, farmers, workers and local communities suffer the consequences of the climate emergency. It’s not too late to respond. To tackle this threat, we must act urgently to keep global warming below 1.5C, help those in need and end our dependence on fossil fuels.
“Africa has an opportunity to lead the world. We have a huge potential for renewable energy. Decreasing costs of energy recovery technologies make this the most viable energy source. Kenya is transitioning to clean energy that will support jobs, local economies and sustainable industrialization. In Kenya, we will lead this effort by reaffirming our commitment to transition to 100% clean energy by 2030. We invite all African countries to join us on this journey.
“As members of the international community, we will support a successful climate summit in Africa in November, supporting the delivery of the finance and technology needed by Africa to adapt to climate impacts, support those in need and manage the transition.”
Kenya’s renewable energy sector is powered by a good mix of geothermal, wind, hydro and some solar. Kenya is already in the top 10 in the world for electricity production from geothermal energy, with close to 1,000 MW of installed capacity. Kenya’s Great Rift Valley has an estimated geothermal potential of 10,000 MW. This reliable clean energy potential puts Kenya in an excellent position to reach 100% renewable energy very soon. As the economy grows, geothermal electricity can be a key anchor. We hope to see some growth in the solar space at the utility level as well. The solar sector still contributes only 1% of total production.
Kenya’s progress has attracted interest from local and international players looking to tap into this renewable energy-dominated grid to catalyze electric vehicle adoption. Other stakeholders are looking closely at the prospects of a green hydrogen economy in Kenya. Some of the areas identified have a strong focus on using geothermal resources to power electrolysers to produce green ammonia for local fertilizer production. Local production of fertilizers will be a key boost to the Kenyan economy, with a widespread impact on job creation and reducing import bills through the import substation.
All this locally generated clean, renewable electricity can also help improve Kenya’s energy security as well as reduce costs in the transport sector. Kenya will greatly benefit from replacing a significant portion of imported petroleum products with this locally produced clean electricity by accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles. Imports of petroleum products contribute to a large part of Kenya’s import bill. With Kenya’s trade deficit continuously widening, this import substitution will need to be considered as soon as possible. According to the latest economic survey by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), there was a 30.9% growth in imports in 2021. The increase in imports widened the trade deficit from KSh 999.9 billion in 2020 to KSh 1.4 trillion in 2021. That’s a trade deficit of about 11.8 billion dollars! Imports increased from KSh 1.6 trillion in 2020 to KSh 2.1 trillion, mainly due to the increase in the import of petroleum products, the report says.
Kenya’s trade deficit over the past 5 years
During the campaign period of the just concluded elections in Kenya, President Ruto’s Kenya Kwanzaa Coalition put together a rather impressive manifesto that included support for electric mobility and renewable energy sources. In the electricity section of the document, Kenya Kwanza stated that:
“Electricity is a vital economic and social service critical to production, basic services such as health and safety and the quality of life of citizens. Although production capacity has grown significantly in recent years, our electricity is expensive and unreliable. This should not be the case, given that we are blessed with significant geothermal, solar, wind and hydro resources that can provide cheap energy that is environmentally friendly. One of the key factors contributing to both the price and quality of electricity is the outdated transmission and distribution network. The investments needed to upgrade the network are significant, especially in the difficult financial situation the country is in, but it is imperative. Cheap clean energy can be a strong asset to attract energy-intensive manufacturing for the global market to Kenya.”
Kwanza Kenya also stated that Kenya should take advantage of: “The disruptive technology landscape heralding a transformation of the electricity industry perhaps as much as the mobile phone revolution has disrupted landlines”. This includes “rapidly reducing the cost of renewable energy which Kenya is said to have in abundance. Utility electricity storage costs are also plummeting, helping to overcome the intermittency limitations of solar and wind power. On the consumer side, stand-alone solar power and micro-grids are increasingly cost-effective alternatives to electricity for domestic and even commercial consumers. Transportation will be a major consumer of electricity as electric vehicles replace fossil fuel vehicles.”
Kenya Kwanza has committed to:
Turn to Kenya Power. “We will develop government development initiatives, leaving Kenya Power to operate on commercial principles. A political, regulatory and financial framework for community-owned development projects (mini- and micro-grids) will be established. Improve reliability, reduce electricity costs.”
Kwanza Kenya has proposed a 3-point plan to reduce the cost of electricity, namely:
- Mobilize the resources needed for the reconstruction of the transmission and distribution network
- Accelerate the development of geothermal resources
- Develop a liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage facility in Mombasa, with the aim of phasing out heavy fuel oil (HFO) from the power generation portfolio. This will also contribute to meeting Kenya’s emission reduction commitments
On e-mobility, Kenya’s Kwanzaa government has promised:
- Introduce electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in all urban areas and along highways
- Provide financial and tax incentives for public service vehicles and commercial carriers to switch to electric vehicles
- Take advantage of the financial support that will be provided to the boda boda sector, through the Hustler Fund, to develop the emerging electric vehicle (EV) and motorcycle industry
Kenya Kwanza also stated that “Kenya is well equipped with cheap renewable energy sources. Accelerating the transition to electric vehicles is a win-win proposition in terms of contributing to Kenyan commitment to reducing emissions, making transportation cheaper and tapping into the large local and regional motorcycle market (~500,000 units per year) to build the electric vehicle industry.”
- Create incentives for the adoption of electric public transport systems in all cities and towns
It was really good to see the expansion of Kenya’s huge renewable energy sources such as geothermal, along with increasing penetration of variable renewables such as wind and solar, along with utility battery storage to deal with outages, now includes it in the election agendas of political parties. Kenya has the potential to be a leader in the electric mobility industry on the continent and it is encouraging to note that the political parties are also recognizing this. The potential of a green hydrogen economy is also now part of the conversation. With such strong interest from the private sector, it is always good to see government support to support this development. Now that President Ruto is in office, we hope to see the accelerated implementation of some of the projects in his manifesto that focus on electric mobility and renewable energy.
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