Renewable energy in Kenya


Olkaria V Geothermal Power Station located within Hell's Gate National Park
Olkaria V Geothermal Power Station

Most of Kenya's electricity is generated by renewable energy sources. On 13 December 2019, Kenya brought online a new 50 megawatt (MW) solar plant in Turkana at the cost of $129 million, bringing her renewable energy to 90% of its power mix.[1] With an installed power capacity of 2,336 MW,[2] Kenya generates 870 MW hydroelectric power, 706 MW geothermal power, 253.5 MW thermal power and the rest from other sources.[3] Kenya is the largest geothermal energy producer in Africa and was also the first geothermal-producing state in Africa when Olkaria I Power Station was commissioned in 1981, generating 45 MW.[4] Seventy three percent (73%) of Kenyan households have electricity access.[5] Currently, Kenya is building Olkaria I Unit 6 which will produce an additional 83 MW to the grid making it the 7th largest geothermal power producer in the world.[6][7] Additionally, Kenya has the largest wind farm project in Africa (300 MW) with the Lake Turkana Wind Project Power Project.[8] In March 2011, Kenya became the first country in Africa to open a carbon exchange, presenting 17 projects for registration to the U.N. Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism executive board.[9] Kenya is also a signatory to the Paris Agreement and targets to reduce carbon emissions by 30% below business as usual by 2030 as determined in the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).[10][11] The Renewable Energy Directorate under the Ministry of Energy is responsible for research and development of renewable energy technologies.[12]

Geothermal power

Kenya is the eighth largest geothermal power producer in the world.[13] Exploration of geothermal resources in the Kenyan Rift Valley started in the 1950s and gained momentum in the 1960s. From 1967, the Kenyan government, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the East Africa Power & Lighting Company LTD conducted geological and geophysical surveys in the area between Lake Bogoria and Olkaria.[14] To date, over 300 wells have been sunk, with one costing as much as $6 million.[15] Kenya was the first African country to tap geothermal power and is the largest producer of geothermal energy. Geothermal power contributes up to 38% of Kenya's power, more than any nation.[16]

The Geothermal Development Company, a semi-autonomous government agency is tasked with developing steam fields and selling geothermal steam for electricity generation to Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) and Independent Power Producers. The Geothermal Development Company drilled 59 wells in the Olkaria I to Olkaria IV projects between 2009 - 2010.[17] The Rift Valley has an estimated geothermal potential of 15,000 MW using today's technology.[18]


Hydroelectric power in Kenya currently accounts for about 49% of installed capacity, which is about 761 MW. However, the Kenyan Government is strongly pushing for a shift to other alternative resources of electricity generation. By 2030 hydro power will only account for 5% of total capacity at 1,039 MW.[19]

Hydroelectric power stations in Kenya

See main article: List of hydro-electric power stations in Kenya

Seven Forks Scheme

The scheme generates almost all of Kenya's Hydro-electric power. It generates approximately 530 MW of power. It includes


Gitaru Power Station

Gitaru Power Station is the biggest power station in Kenya in terms of installed and effective capacity. It can produce 222 MW[20] and was commissioned in 1978 (145 MW) and 1999 (80 MW). It is one of the stations included in the Seven Forks Scheme.

Wind power

Solar power

Kenyans are a world leader in the number of solar power systems installed per capita. More Kenyans are turning to solar power rather than connections to the country's electric grid. This is due to relatively high connectivity costs to the grid and the abundance of solar power in Kenya.[21]

Kenya has several notable solar power distributors including M-Kopa with locally adopted payment schemes including pay-as-you-go and microfinance.[22] The World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC) have partnered as part of a Lighting Africa initiative.[23] Western companies have also helped sponsor efforts to introduce decentralized solar power solutions in the country.[24][25]

Several solar power stations are operational or under construction are 55 MW Garissa, 40 MW Rumuruti, 40 MW Radiant, 40 MW Eldosol, 40 MW Alten, 10 MW Kenyatta University, 52 MW Malindi and 50 MW Kopere.

Renewable future targets

Kenya aims to produce 19,200 MW against a demand of 15,000 MW by 2030. All this is shown in the table below:


See also


  1. ^ "Update 1-Renewables hit 90% of Kenyan power with new 50 MW solar plant". Reuters. 2019-12-13. Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  2. ^ "Kenya starts construction of 83 MW geothermal plant - ET EnergyWorld". Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  3. ^ "Kenya to add 83.3 MW geothermal power to grid before 2022". Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  4. ^ "Kenya the largest geothermal energy producer in Africa starts construction of new plant". Construction Review Online. 2018-12-06. Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  5. ^ "Kenya - Electrical Power Systems". Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  6. ^ "Acrobat Accessibility Report" (PDF). Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  7. ^ "KenGen unveils elaborate renewable energy project pipeline". East African Modern Builder. 2021-03-31. Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  8. ^ "Lake Turkana Wind Power Project: The largest wind farm project in Africa". African Development Bank. 2019-03-13. Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  9. ^ Gachenge, Beatrice (24 March 2011). "Kenya opens Africa's first carbon exchange". Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  10. ^ "How Kenya's energy sector can transition to zero carbon emission". Business Daily. March 8, 2021. Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  11. ^ "The role of geothermal and coal in Kenya's electricity sector and implications for sustainable development". NewClimate Institute. 2019-11-12. Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  12. ^ kawi. "Background". Ministry of Energy. Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  13. ^ "Geothermal Association of Kenya – Geothermal Association of Kenya". Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  14. ^ "Geothermal". Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  15. ^ Yee, Amy (2018-02-23). "Geothermal Energy Grows in Kenya". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  16. ^ Kushner, Jacob. "How Kenya is harnessing the immense heat from the Earth". Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  17. ^ "Geothermal Development Company". Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  18. ^ "Overview of Geothermal Resource Utilization in the East African Rift System" (PDF). Short Course V on Exploration for Geothermal Resources: organized by UNU-GTP, GDC and KenGen, at Lake Bogoria and Lake Naivasha, Kenya. 29 October 2010.
  19. ^ a b c "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-06-13. Retrieved 2013-08-04.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ "Welcome to Kengen".
  21. ^ "Definitive Solar" (PDF). Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  22. ^ "One Degree Solar". Retrieved 2016-07-25.
  23. ^ "About Us | Lighting Africa". Retrieved 2016-07-26.
  24. ^ "Orb Energy Secures Funding to Replicate Indian Business Model in Kenya | Lighting Africa". 6 February 2015. Retrieved 2016-07-26.
  25. ^ "Why Coke Is Bringing Solar Power To Rural Kenya". Co.Exist. 2013-06-04. Retrieved 2016-06-04.

External links

  • Renewable Energy Portal (Kenya)
  • Ministry of Energy and Petroleum (Kenya)
  • Energy Regulatory Commission (Kenya)
  • Geothermal Development Company (Kenya)
  • Kenya Power
  • KenGen