Kenya Power eyes storage plant to reduce thermal use

Kenya Power technicians replacing a transformer in Kanyange, Othaya, Nyeri county. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

Kenya Power is planning to set up an electricity storage plant to store power generated during off-peak hours by wind and solar plants. The stored power will then be used during peak powers.

The utility firm expects this to help in further displacing costly thermal power plants which are tapped to supply electricity during evening hours when there’s high demand as domestic customers switch on their many appliances.

Kenya Power said it expects to have the first battery storage plant with a capacity of 100 megawatts to be up and running by 2024. It added that it will increase this capacity to 250MW over the medium term.

The need for battery storage is increasingly becoming critical for Kenya’s electricity system as the country brings on board more power plants that use intermittent sources such as wind and solar.

The sources, while renewable, cannot always be relied on to supply steady electricity to correspond with consumer demand patterns.

“We have increased our capacity to generate electricity through wind and solar quite significantly to stand at about 20 per cent of the installed capacity. This has implications on a power system and that is one area where are looking at improvement using battery storage,” said the firm’s Power System Planning Manager Erastus Kiruja

“Wind plants tend to produce the most power at night when we do not need it. We will be charging the batteries at night and use the power during the daily peak hours.”

Kiruja said the firm is undertaking a study funded by the World Bank that will inform costs as well as the location of the plants.

A battery storage farm could be among the ways that the power distributor can reduce reliance on costly thermal power producers.

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