Kenya’s Solar Power Surge: A New Era of Renewable Energy

Kenya’s renewable energy sector witnessed a historic milestone with the commissioning of the 40-megawatt (MW) Alten Kenya Solarfarms plant in Kesses, Uasin Gishu County. The addition of the new plant contributed to a record-breaking solar power generation capacity in 2023, marking a pivotal moment in the country’s energy transition. Let’s delve deeper into the details of this achievement and its implications for Kenya’s energy future.

Quick Summary:

  • Kenya’s solar power generation capacity reached a record 491.48 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) in 2023.
  • The surge in solar power generation follows the commissioning of new solar plants and increased output from existing facilities.
  • Solar power, alongside imports from Ethiopia and other renewable sources, mitigated the generation deficit caused by hydro and wind fluctuations.

Record-Breaking Solar Power Generation:

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) revealed a remarkable surge in solar power generation which topped at a record 491.48 million kWh in 2023. This development represented a notable increase of 28.1 percent compared to the previous year’s output. The commissioning of the Alten Kenya Solarfarms plant combined with enhanced output from existing solar farms like Cedate and Malindi, significantly contributed to this remarkable growth.

Addressing Generation Deficits:

Kenya’s reliance on solar power proved invaluable in addressing generation deficits caused by adverse weather conditions. For example, a 12.4 percent decline in hydro output attributed to severe drought, necessitated alternative sources of energy. Solar power, alongside imports from Ethiopia and other renewable sources, helped to bridge the gap thereby ensuring a stable supply of electricity despite challenges faced by traditional energy sources like hydro and wind.

Reduced Reliance on Expensive Thermal Power:

There were some expected benefits coming out of the green solar power of course, Kenya Power which is the sole power distributor in Kenya reduced its purchases of expensive thermal power by 17.5 percent. This cost-saving measure underscores the economic benefits of transitioning towards renewable energy sources. By harnessing solar power and other renewables, Kenya can enhance energy security while mitigating environmental impact as well as reducing dependency on costly fossil fuels.

Transitioning Towards Energy Auctions:

Following a global trend on falling prices of renewable energy components, there has been a push for Kenya to transition from feed-in tariffs (FiT) to energy auctions. The Presidential Taskforce on Review of Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) recommended adopting energy auctions for new solar and wind projects instead of FiTs. This shift aims to optimize cost-effectiveness and promote competitiveness in the renewable energy sector.

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