Kenya Power to Cut Electricity Cost by Switching to Solar

Kenya Power engineers carry out repairs at a power sub-station in Mombasa County in 2018

Kenya Power plans on cutting the cost of electricity bills in the country by replacing its thermal power stations with solar and wind electricity generating machines. This will see the electricity distribution company switch from fuel-powered engines. 

The company had on January 2, said that the move will reduce the effect of fuel on power consumer's bills. Electricity bills are based on foreign exchange fluctuation, hydropower levies and fuel charges. 

Kenyans are expected to pay record-high electricity bills for the period between January 15 and February 15 after the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) adjusted electricity tariffs, charges, prices and rates on Friday, January 15. 

The firm added that switching to solar and wind energy will also curb emissions as Kenya is focused on promoting green energy in line with the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP 2018-2023). 

Women drying vegetables with a solar drier on October 1, 2018.
Women drying vegetables with a solar drier on October 1, 2018.

The power plants targeted for hybridisation will be driven by all power sources, diesel, solar and wind energy, with the last two being consumed at a higher percentage. The pilot program will start with Kenya Power plants located in North Eastern Kenya where solar and wind energy manufacturing yards are located. 

"The off-grid retrofitting program plans to hybridise some existing remote power grids, some of which have been running since the 80s. Until recently, all sites were run on diesel generator sets but some have existing solar and wind turbines. KOLC intends to hybridise 23 of the off-grid stations," the firm said,

The utility firm hopes to have completed the tender issuing process by December 2021 and installation of solar and wind equipment by June 2022. 

Kenya enjoys geothermal, wind, utility-scale solar, and hydropower plants which have been recognised globally. In April 2020, the country was ranked 7th in the production of geothermal power across the globe in the Renewable Capacity Statistics for the year 2020 published the previous week by the International Renewable Energy Agency.

The country owns the biggest solar generation plant in Africa – the Ksh 13 billion China-funded Garissa Plant where more than 200,000 PV panels produce 50MW. 

On January 25, Kipeto Energy Plc (KEP), announced that it had connected Kipeto wind farm to the national grid and would also start generating power in February 2021. KEP connected a 17km (220KV) high voltage transmission line, linking the facility to the national grid at the Isinya Substation, signaling the start of the go-live process.

EPRA, in December 2020, sparked uproar in the country after proposing to implement stringent measures on companies and individuals switching to solar from government powered electricity. The proposals included education requirements, licences and fines for solar contractors and engineers.

The Senate accused the agency of monopoly. However, EPRA defended itself and said that it was misinterpreted, adding that the Draft Energy (Solar Photovoltaic Systems) Regulations 2020 was raised to streamline the manufacture, importation, distribution, design, installation, testing, commissioning, maintenance and repair of solar systems in Kenya.

President Uhuru Kenyatta launches Garissa Power Plant in Garissa County on Friday, December 13, 2019