The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has started reviewing the national grid code to enhance the country’s capacity to absorb additional renewable electricity.
The grid code stipulates rules and regulations that various players in the electricity production chain are expected to abide by for efficient operation of the system.
Typically a grid code will specify the required behaviour of a connected generator during system disturbances. These include voltage regulation, power factor limits and response to a system fault among others.
The need for review has come with the rise in the number of investments in renewable energy, especially in wind and solar projects, whose specific needs are not largely covered under the current code.
“The grid code review will address historical challenges and aid tapping into regional power pools. What we have at the moment has been overtaken by events and it is not adequate to address challenges associated with additions of renewable energy,” said ERC’s director general Joseph Ng’ang’a.
The current grid code has lasted for 8 years. The current review is being undertaken by Nexant, an American company that is also the consultant for the East Africa Power Pool.
POWER AFRICA INITIATIVE
It has been financed by USAID, through the grid management support programme, managed under the US government-backed Power Africa Initiative.
The new grid code will spell out separate rules for transmission and distribution activities to enhance efficiency of the whole system. It is hoped to become operational at the start of the next financial year.
According to Mr Ng’ang’a, investors in renewable energy production have often raised issues that the current grid code has failed to take into account changes in the power production technologies, making it difficult to attract foreign investments.
The government is currently pursuing a plan to increase electricity generation capacity by 5,000 megawatts, mainly from renewable sources.
The new code is expected to accelerate development and absorption of the additional capacity to avert any losses or additional payments to generators in the event that all the power produced is not fully utilised.
Last year, Kenya was ranked among top ten countries in the world that have made significant investments in renewable energy.
According to a report prepared by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Kenya was ranked sixth in the global list of key emerging markets which together attracted Sh12.9 trillion worth of investments in clean energy in 2014.