Players discuss greater adoption of clean energy at NMG-sponsored event

Delegates are shown a model Geothermal Energy Plant at Olkaria

Energy Cabinet Secretary Dr. Monica Juma, Nation Media Group Chairman Wilfred Kiboro, Nation Media Group CEO Stephen Gitagama and other delegates are shown a model Geothermal Energy Plant at Olkaria in Naivasha during Sustainable Energy Conference on June 16, 2022.

Photo credit: Cheboite Kigen | Nation Media Group

Individual and corporate stakeholders in the energy sector have converged in Naivasha seeking to address challenges hampering Kenya’s efforts to scale up the use of clean energy, and recommend measures to address them.

The Sustainable Energy Conference, an initiative of the Nation Media Group (NMG), brings together government and private institutions keen on renewable energy, as Kenya, among the world’s top 10 countries in the use of geothermal energy, seeks to increase generation and use of wind, geothermal and hydrothermal energy.

The conference happens as the global climate change crisis has hurt the dignity of humans, with natural disasters happening more frequently and leading to deaths, displacements, and agony caused by lack of necessities.

Although Africa has a huge potential to diversify into clean and greener energy solutions, the potentials remain untapped.

“This is why the occasion of this conference is significant. It offers an opportunity to look at the state of play from a Kenyan and African perspective in order that we can infuse our perspective into what is a global, urgent agenda,” said Energy Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma when she opened the conference.

The CS said that the government is committed to providing clean, reliable and affordable energy services to all Kenyans, and that the country has positioned itself as a leader in renewables, with 75 per cent of green installed capacity, and a 92 per cent daily green dispatch.

She said that to provide universal access to electricity for all Kenyans, access has been expanded from below 30 per cent to 75 per cent in less than10 years. She also said that the number of households connected to electricity increased from 2.3 million in 2013 to 6.2 million in 2022.

KenGen Managing Director and CEO Rebecca Miano said that the world has entered a new era, focusing on energy transition.

“Going forward, fossil fuels are no longer a sustainable source of energy to power our economic growth. As nations worldwide strive for sustainable development, clean and renewable energy sources have taken centre stage in the global discourse on how we produce and consume energy,” she said.

KenGen is implementing six Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects that offset a cumulative 4,617,309 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (carbon credits) annually.

They include the Olkaria II geothermal expansion, redeveloping the Tana hydropower station, optimizing the Kiambere hydropower site, Olkaria IV geothermal, Olkaria I Units 4 and 5 geothermal and the Ngong wind project.

NMG chairman Wilfred Kiboro said that energy consumption is universal and that governments must devise ways of making it available, accessible and affordable.

“Currently, energy is available for the privileged few. States should make affordable electricity, for instance, a human right. This should be enshrined in the Constitution,” he said.

He blamed politics, corruption, lack of vision and bad policies for states’ failure to provide electricity to their citizens.

Kenya is one of the top 10 countries globally that have embraced green energy, with over 90 per cent of its energy coming from hydrothermal, geothermal and wind.

A 2019 World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report on climate action warned that if governments and businesses do not slow global emissions, temperatures could rise to above three degrees Celsius by 2100, causing further irreversible damage to ecosystems.

The NMG-KenGen conference gives Kenya and Africa an opportunity to come up with actionable frameworks and solutions for the continent’s energy transition and security to leapfrog it to the next level of socio-economic development in a sustainable manner.

Data shows that geothermal power accounts for 37.3 per cent of Kenya’s electricity while the share of wind and solar is 16 per cent and one per cent, respectively, bringing to 54.3 per cent the share of clean energy in the national grid.

Power from hydro sources accounts for 30 per cent while diesel-powered thermal plants provide 10 per cent.

Representatives from organisations including the French Development Agency (AFD), Japan’s JICA, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the World Bank, GIZ, Kepsa, African Development Bank (AfDB), Equity Bank, the European Investment Bank (EIB), Germany's KfW, and A.P. Moller Capital are attending the conference, which is being held at the Geothermal Spa in Naivasha.