Kenya and Renewable Energy
In general Kenya is known for being an African developing country, with Nairobi and Mombasa as powerful economic hubs, and a relatively high GDP per Capita for East African standards. What is less known is that Kenya is also a leading country when it comes to the use of renewables as a source of energy. Compared to the global average of 5,4% of total energy use (and 12% in the Netherlands), Kenya is way ahead with 24,8% (2014 data). Even Germany, famous for making great progress on renewables as source of energy through its Energiewende policy (aiming to reduce greenhouse gases with 80-95% by 2050), is behind Kenya with 20,6% and has started much later with the transition (see graph above).
Kenya’s main renewable source is geothermal power, which is generated from natural steam coming from the earth. Energy is generated by using the temperature differences between the core of the planet and its surface. Kenya’s government has recently stepped up geothermal development in new fields and the world bank reports that geothermal’s contribution to the national energy mix increased to 51% in 2015. With most of the geothermal factories located in parts the Rift Valley – already branded the ‘Hell’s Gate National Park’ by the Masai – the country is well-positioned to lead the energy transition for East Africa.
Although energy access is not common in Kenya, where only 23% of the population has access (compared to 84% of the world’s population, see graph below), green developments are preferred. Next to geothermal energy source, Kenya is building Africa’s largest windfarm (310MW) to provide another 18% of the country’s installed electricity generating capacity. The energy revolution doesn’t stop there, with M-kopa making energy affordable and personal by selling affordable solar home systems. The de-centralised way of generating energy in a profitable way is taking a hold in Kenya as well – and is doing so profitably.
The data shown highlights Kenya as a bright spot when it comes to the energy transition. Regardless of current low access to the power grid, and relatively low GDP per Capita and spending power, the country has made giant strides when it comes to supplying their citizens with clean energy.