Ambitious plan to guarantee stable power supply - Daily Nation

Ambitious plan to guarantee stable power supply

Monday April 23 2012

A report notes that geothermal resources are the choice for future generating capacity in Kenya and plans are underway to increase its installed capacity from the current 198MW to 5,530MW.

A report notes that geothermal resources are the choice for future generating capacity in Kenya and plans are underway to increase its installed capacity from the current 198MW to 5,530MW.  

By IMMACULATE KARAMBU [email protected]

Kenya will need to more than double its current power supply over the next six years if it is to achieve its goal to become a middle income country by 2030.

At present, the country has 1,533 megawatts installed capacity. This needs to be scaled up to 3,750MW by 2018 and over 15,000MW in the next 18 years.

The cost of installing the additional capacity by 2018 is put at about Sh3.3 trillion, which is more than double the cost of the Lamu port project (Sh1.5 trillion) that will connect Kenya to Ethiopia and South Sudan via road, rail, and oil pipeline, all terminating at a new port.

It is also three times the size of this year’s national budget (Sh1.1 trillion). The cost excludes that of setting up a nuclear plant and gas turbine.

The optimal development programme is dominated by geothermal, nuclear, coal, imports and wind power plants, a report titled Least Cost Power Development Plan released last month states.

It notes that geothermal resources are the choice for future generating capacity in Kenya and plans are underway to increase its installed capacity from the current 198MW to 5,530MW.

By 2030, total new additional capacity to the system is projected at 18,920MW comprising 5,040MW geothermal, 2,400MW new coal units, 2,000MW imports, 4,000MW nuclear, 2,340MW new gas turbines, 1,440 new medium speed diesel units, 1,500MW wind, and 200MW hydro power plants.

The analysis below shows that as a result of a wide gap in access to electricity, power generation has ceased to be an exclusive activity of government-owned agencies and now includes private investors.

Team to fast-track setting up of plant

The Nuclear Electricity Power Project Committee was set up in 2010 to fast-track nuclear energy production.

The committee receives Sh200 million a year and is seeking an extra Sh300 million to help train personnel.

It will require about 200 skilled staff in various aspects of nuclear power production to competently run a plant.

Some 15 students are undertaking Masters degrees at the University of Nairobi and another six are at the Korea International Nuclear Graduate School, South Korea.

Initial estimates put the cost at Sh1 trillion for a 1,700MW plant and Sh415 billion for a 1,000MW plant.

Commissioning of the first nuclear energy plant is scheduled for 2022. In overall, nuclear is expected to contribute 4,000MW by 2030.


Kengen to upgrade kindaruma dam output

The total hydro power production by KenGen is expected to increase from the current 762MW to 815MW by 2014 after completion of the ongoing upgrade of hydro power production.

KenGen is revamping the capacity of Kindaruma Dam at a cost of $75 million (Sh6.2 billion) from the current 40 megawatts to 72 megawatts, meaning an additional 32 megawatt capacity that is set for commissioning by June 2013.

The upgrade is partly funded by German development bank KfW at a cost of 39.1 million euros (Sh4.2 billion).

The company is also setting up a 21 megawatt hydro project at Sang’oro at a cost of $78 million (Sh6.5 billion).

This will be funded by JICA in addition to funding from KenGen through equity and money raised through an infrastructure bond.

The project is yet to be commissioned, although it was scheduled for commissioning by March this year.


Mining to start in Mui basin soon

Kenya imports an average of 3.6 million tonnes of coal annually for use mainly in manufacturing industries.

KenGen plans to set up a 300 megawatt coal plant at Kilifi which, if it comes to pass, will see it source coal from Mui basin in Kitui County once mining starts.

The government is yet to sign a concession with Chinese firm Fenxi for mining an estimated 400 million metric tonnes of coal deposits at the basin.


Though untapped; cheap way to go

Wind power remains largely untapped in Kenya. The best wind sites in Kenya are Marsabit district, Samburu, parts of Laikipia, Meru north, Nyeri, Nyandarua, and Ngong Hills.

Currently, only one wind power plant is operational with a small capacity of 5.45 megawatts. The KenGen plant is located at Ngong in the outskirts of Nairobi.

KenGen plans to spend 40 million euros (Sh4.4 billion) to set up two more farms with 18.6 megawatts to be commissioned by December 2013.

The two are funded by KCB, the Belgium and Spanish governments. A third farm is planned for Isiolo to produce 150MW, although financiers are yet come on board.

Meanwhile, Lake Turkana Wind Farm Limited, an independent power producer, is working on setting up a 300 MW wind power plant in Turkana at a cost of $700 million (Sh58 billion).

It is billed as the biggest wind farm in Africa. It will be commissioned in the second half of 2013.

Another 60MW wind power plant by independent power producer, Aeolus Kenya, at an estimated cost of $132 million is scheduled for commissioning by 2013.


First project to be implemented during course of 2014

The first project in the least cost plan is 200MW to be imported in 2014 and a 280MW geothermal plant in 2015.

The first two gas fired power plants utilising natural gas come online in 2017 and will mainly be used as peaking plants.

The next varying type of technology, a 300 MW coal plant, will be required in 2020.

The first nuclear plant in the least-cost expansion is a 1,000MW plant to be commissioned in 2022.


IPPs play part in filling gap

The current total capacity of thermal power production in Kenya is 388 megawatts. Of this, 115 megawatts are produced by KenGen at its Kipevu III thermal power plant.

The rest is generated by independent power producers including Rabai Power Limited, with an output of 90MW, Tsavo thermal group with a 74MW output, and IberAfrica power, which owns two thermal plants with capacities of 56MW and 53MW.

By 2014, total thermal power production will be increased to 1,020MW. This will comprise an 80MW medium speed diesel power plant, which KenGen plans to develop at Muhoroni to plug the supply deficit in western Kenya.

It is expected to be commissioned by June 2013.

Three medium-sized speed diesel power plants with a combined capacity of 252MW are also expected to be set up by three independent power producers — Triumph, Mellec, and Gulf Power — two of which will be located at Athi River and one at Thika at an estimated cost of $252 million.

These are scheduled for commissioning by December.


Tapping of energy in the rift valley ongoing

Kenya’s total geothermal output is 200.3 megawatts. By the end of 2014, the country is expected to be producing 1,117.3MW of geothermal power.

It consists of production by KenGen and an independent power producer — OrPower — whose plant is located at Olkaria.

KenGen estimates that $4.5 billion will have been used in activities preceding the actual construction of geothermal wells in Olkaria and Menengai that is expected to provide over 1,200MW.

Geothermal potential stands at between 5,000MW and 10,000MW in about 14 sites.

In the next two years, KenGen plans to increase its geothermal power production by about 568 per cent from the current 152.3 megawatts to 1,017.3 megawatts at a cost of $1.37 billion.

By soaking upfront costs through conducting relevant studies and purchasing equipment like rigs, the government expects local and international private investors to speed up exploitation of geothermal energy.
It will provide $257 million and the rest will be provided by a host of financiers, including the World Bank, Exim Bank of China, the French Development Agency (AFD), the German development bank (KfW), the European Investment Bank, and JICA.

Geothermal prospect sites are at Olkaria, Menengai and Eburru. However only 202MW has been developed in Olkaria consisting of KenGen (150MW) at Olkaria I and II, Power IV (48MW) and another four megawatt by Oserian Development Company, a flower farm.

Policymakers say investment in the country’s extensive geothermal resources would enable it to reduce reliance on hydroelectric power and provide clean energy.

There are also prospects of the country reaping billions of shillings from the green energy through the sale of carbon credits.