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Govt to increase electricity production by 5,000 MW

13 August 2013, 16:12

Nairobi - The government has put in place plans to increase the electricity capacity by over 5,000 MW in the next 40 months, a government official said on Monday.

Energy Principal Secretary Joseph Njoroge told journalists in Nairobi that the new electricity will include 3,000 MW from coal and natural gas, 1,600 MW from geothermal energy and 600 MW from wind.

"This is a daunting task but will be achieved through a comprehensive public, private partnership framework," Njoroge said during the Kenya-Japan Business Forum.

"We will soon conclude talks with financiers for the development of a 210 MW geothermal power plant," he said. "These projects are expected to boost the country's overall productivity by boosting power supply," he said.

The nation is facing twin pressure of electricity connection and generation. The interconnected installed capacity currently stands at 1,672 MW, including the 120 MW of the emergency capacity, according to Kenya Power.

The current national interconnected system peak demand is 1,330 MW. But the country is banking on several power generation projects currently under implementation.

Njoroge added that the programs will make a difference to the livelihoods of Kenyans through job creation and improving the business climate.

He said the area of infrastructure is of great importance to Kenya as it is geared towards propelling Kenya into the middle income status. "The scale of economic developments that are envisaged, require the availability of the right energy mix," he said.

The official said the government has also embarked on other energy programs.

"It includes the construction of an oil pipeline from Uganda and South Sudan to the Kenyan coastal port of Lamu," he said.

"These developments are crucial given the envisaged activity in the petroleum sector due to discovery of oil deposits in Kenya and the region," Njoroge said.

"They will also deepen economic and political relations with our neighboring countries," the government official said.

He noted that the government also plans to introduce rice husk power generation technologies that are already common in Asian countries.

He added that Kenya is also in the process of conducting feasibility studies on the establishment of renewable energy in off-grid parts of the country.

Kenya Power estimates that in 2012 and 2013, the electricity demand growth rate will be 4 percent based on trends recorded up to December 2012 and the economic growth forecast for the current financial year riding on on-going economic recovery. The company also projects that by 2016, the demand growth rate will be 6 percent per year.

Of this capacity, Independent Power Producers (IPPs) will generate 851 MW while KenGen, the quasi-government listed power generator will add 397 MW.

Acting Director of Renewable Energy Isaac Kiva said that the Kerosene free strategy will supply solar lanterns to rural communities.

"This is a most cost effective way of lighting up villages," he said. According to the national power distributor, less than 40 percent of Kenya's population has access to electricity, with the rest relying on biomass.

Kiva said that Kenya's feed in tariffs for renewable energy power plants is the one of the most favorable in the region. "They are incentives for the private sector so that they can augment government efforts to bridge the energy production gap," he said.

The director said that the government will pay investors 11 U.S. cents per kilowatt hour for electricity generated by wind and 12 cents, 8.8 cents and 10 cents for power generated from solar, geothermal and biomass respectively.

He said that Kenya needs energy that is affordable, reliable so as to remain the economic hub of eastern and central Africa.

According to the government official, power plants that use coal and liquid natural gas are easiest way to upscale electricity production. "Our research has shown that they have the low initial startup cost for big power plants," he said.

The energy principal secretary noted that in order for Kenya to achieve its goal of transforming into a middle income country, it will need to increase the amount of electricity available.

- Xinhua

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