Kenya, like many other developing countries, lacks reliable and affordable electricity. Numerous brownouts, blackouts, and power surges as well as the high cost of oil and changing weather patterns has contributed to high electricity prices, with Kenyan electricity costs being ranked among some of the highest in the world. The supply deficit and costly short-term solutions impede economic growth, and reduce the competitiveness of Kenya's private sector.
The total installed capacity is approximately 1530MW with the major sources of electricity being hydroelectric, geothermal, thermal, and cogeneration by sugar companies. According to the Ministry of Energy, demand is expected to grow by 8% annually over the next 10 years. In response, the Government of Kenya has committed to rapid electricity sector expansion in the power generation, transmission and distribution subsectors so as to achieve 80% - 100% electricity connectivity by 2030. This is in line with Kenya’s Vision 2030 development blueprint that envisions affordable and reliable electricity for all by the year 2030.
Electricity connectivity in Kenya stands at 23%, with only 10% of rural Kenya with power. In 2007, GoK established the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) to spearhead electrification projects in rural areas. REA coordinates the implementation of rural electrification projects by connecting load centers such as schools, trading centers, health centers and public institutions via grid and off-grid solutions. Previously, off-grid solutions have mainly been diesel powered but REA is now looking at hybrid solutions to reduce reliance on expensive diesel fuel.
It is with this in mind that the GoK is requesting funds from The French Development Agency (AFD) for the implementation of renewable energy solutions for off-grid power supply. The program will finance the:
(i) Transformation of off- grid diesel power plants (existing or in the process of being installed) into hybrid systems: and
(ii) Installation of new hybrid off-grid schemes (composed of diesel, renewable energy generator and mini-grid).
Currently, there are 14 existing off-grid diesel power stations installed in Kenya, which are managed by KPLC (12 stations) and KenGen (2 stations). Under the Rural Electrification Master Plan (REMP) (2009), 33 new sites were identified for establishment of power stations. Out of the new sites, installation of diesel power stations in 13 sites is in progress. For the other 20 sites identified in the REMP, REA is currently undertaking an economic analysis to assess whether a hybrid power station or a grid line from a neighboring mini grid is more viable.