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The largest share of Kenya’s electricity supply, around 60%, comes from hydro-electric stations at dams along the upper Tana River, as well as the Turkwel Gorge Dam in the west. The five stations combined - Kindaruma, Kamburu, Gitaru, Masinga and Kiambere - have an installed capacity of more than 400 MW. The rest of small hydro stations and one station in the north-west generate combined output of 146 MW. A petroleum-fired plant on the coast, geothermal facilities at Olkaria (near Nairobi), and electricity imported from Uganda make up the rest of the supply.

Kenya was the first African country to build geothermal energy sources, which is very cost-effective. Geothermal energy is also generated using natural steam tapped from volcanic-active zones in the Rift Valley. Some 127 MW is fed into the national grid from three plants located at Olkaria. Plans are to increase production capacity by another 576 MW by 2017, covering 25% of Kenya's electricity needs, and correspondingly reducing dependency on imported oil.

The national grid is operated as an integral network, linked by a 220 kV and 132 kV transmission network. A limited length of 66 kV transmission lines is also in use. The national grid impacts on the future growth of the energy sector because any new generation capacity must take into consideration the existing network and its capacity to handle new loads.

In the long term, the installed capacity is projected to increase by 1342 MW between 2004 and 2018/2019 and will comprise geothermal (503 MW), hydro (220.6 MW) and thermal (568.7 MW) sources. National consumption of electricity is projected to rise from 4.9 billion kilowatt hours in 2003/2004 to 5.1 billion in 2004/2005, 6.9 billion kilowatt hours in 2009/2010 and to 11.8 billion in 20/9/20.

However, it is important to note that shortfalls of electricity occur periodically, when drought reduces water flow.

Kenya Electricity Utilities

KenGen, the state-owned Kenya Electricity Generating Company, handles the generation of electricity, while the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC), which is slated for privatization, handles transmission and distribution.

KenGen: the leading electric power generation company in Kenya, producing about 80% of electricity consumed in the country. The company utilizes various sources to generate electricity ranging from hydro, geothermal, thermal and wind. It owns fourteen hydropower stations (615.3 MW combined capacity), three thermal power plants (147 MW combined capacity), two geothermal power plants (115 MW combined capacity) and one wind farm (0.35MW). KenGen is in direct competition with four independent power producers who between them produce about 18% of the country’s electric power. The company’s shares are also listed on the Nairobi Stock Exchange since 2006.

KPLC: a limited liability company responsible for the transmission, distribution and retail of electricity throughout Kenya. KPLC owns and operates the national transmission and distribution grid, and is responsible for the scheduling and dispatch of electricity to more than 600,000 customers throughout Kenya.

Plans & Projects

Kenya Electricity Generating Co. (KenGen) signed a contract worth more than US$1.3 billion for Sinclair Knight Merz Pty Ltd. to be consultants for the construction of facilities to provide 280 megawatts of geothermal power from underground hot springs. Work will take three years, Ken Gen Managing Director Edward Njoroge said in an e-mailed statement today. The geothermal power project, which will be Kenya’s biggest, comprises two fields in Olkaria near the town of Naivasha.

Sinclair Knight Merz, which has offices worldwide, will be required to provide technical design and preparation of the tender documents, prequalification of potential bidders, tender evaluation and contract negotiations, supervision of construction contracts, and support during the warranty period, according to the statement.

The Kenyan government, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the African Development Bank, the European Development Bank, the World Bank, the German Development Bank and KenGen will jointly finance the project, Njoroge said.

Key Figures

  • Electricity produced: 5.223 billion KWh (2008)
  • Electricity consumed: 4.863 billion KWh (2007)
  • Electricity Exported: 58.3 million KWh (2007)
  • Electricity Imported: 22.5 million KWh (2007)

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