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Why Kenya is quickly becoming a leader in renewable energy in Africa

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By Victor MUJIDU

Kenya is quickly becoming a leader in renewable energy on the African continent due to its ambitious goals, favorable natural resources, and supportive government policies.

Ambitious renewable energy goals: Kenya has set a goal to generate 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. This ambitious target has driven significant investment and innovation in the renewable energy sector.

Abundant natural resources: Kenya has abundant renewable energy resources, including geothermal, solar, wind, and hydroelectric power. The country’s geothermal potential alone is estimated at over 10,000 MW, making it one of the largest in the world.

Supportive government policies: The Kenyan government has implemented a range of policies and incentives to support the development of renewable energy, including feed-in tariffs, tax incentives, and renewable energy targets. These policies have helped attract investment and drive the growth of the sector.

Large-scale renewable energy projects: Kenya has undertaken several large-scale renewable energy projects, such as the Lake Turkana Wind Power project, which is one of the largest wind power projects in Africa. These projects have helped increase the country’s renewable energy capacity and reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.

International partnerships: Kenya has worked closely with international partners, including the World Bank and the African Development Bank, to support the development of its renewable energy sector. These partnerships have helped provide financing and technical expertise to accelerate the growth of renewable energy in the country.

Overall, Kenya’s commitment to renewable energy, favorable natural resources, supportive government policies, and international partnerships have positioned it as a leader in renewable energy on the African continent. With continued investment and innovation, Kenya is poised to further solidify its status as a renewable energy icon in Africa.

In Africa, Kenya leads in exploiting renewable energy sources to provide the energy required to complement the realization of Vision 2030, “accelerating the transformation of our country into a rapidly industrializing middle-income nation by the year 2030.”.

Currently, about 86 per cent of the power generated in the country comes from renewable energy sources, a clear indicator that Kenya is slowly but surely working around the challenge of phasing out fossil fuels.

Considering the fact that fossil fuels expose the world to a high-carbon, high-cost, and high-pollution environment that ultimately wreak havoc on the natural system, Kenya has stood out as a key liberator toward clean energy in Africa and globally, according to insights from the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA).

The country’s primary goal for green energy enhancement, however, is to objectively help mitigate climate change impacts that drastically perpetuate, exposing the country to more risks than resilience.

Rapid Transition

According to science, the worst impacts of climate change are that emissions need to be reduced by almost half by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.

To achieve this, Kenya in particular needs to end its reliance on fossil fuels and invest in alternative sources of energy that are clean, accessible, affordable, sustainable, and reliable. These renewable sources are replenished by nature and emit little to no greenhouse gases or pollutants into the air.

Being the key player and ascendant in driving the clean energy initiative in the African region, Kenya has been considered a higher achiever of market-based incentives, comprehensive mix policy, and the ability to leverage its energy abundance.

This is because of classified projects like the Lake Turkana Wind Plant (LTWP), which is the largest wind farm on the African continent and is made up of 365 turbines.

Other renewable plants in Kenya that have made the country flex its green muscles are Hell’s Gate National Park, to the north-west of Nairobi, and the Olkaria Geothermal Project, which sits atop the Great Rift Valley. These unleashed renewable energy projects are inherent power-generative sources that are essentially limitless and easily accessible. The scalability of geothermal, which requires less land than wind and solar, has enabled it to meet a substantial chunk of Kenya’s power demand.

On the same note, Kenya is progressively harnessing energy from the earth’s core, like the sun, through the installation of solar panels. Current solar capacity in Kenya is over 100 MW, with the Garissa Solar Station making up 55 MW of this and powering 625,000 homes. According to the Energy Regulator (EPRA), Kenya will be talking about a solar capacity of 2,036 MW by 2030.

The key enabling solutions toward green energy

With the rapid transition of fossil fuels to green energy, Kenya is considered one of the beneficiaries as more stakeholders get into place, seeking mutual cooperation in finding solutions tailored to energy needs.

As a paraphernalia of enhancing green energy in the nation, quite a number of innovative business ventures have taken place in the energy ecosystem. M-KOPA and D-LIGHT, among others, have contributed to the community’s access to energy accessories (smartphones, torches, bulbs, etc.), providing an affordable solution through flexible micro-payment plans.

As of 2021, M-KOPA alone had brought energy to about 4,5 million Kenyans, reducing around two million tonnes of CO2e from being emitted.

Conclusion

It is evidently that Renewable energy is gaining traction in Kenya and don’t seem to be slowing down. And while concerns about cost and connectivity persist, Kenya’s energy landscape is offering other African nations a model for scaling up clean generating to attain sustainable development.

 

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