KenGen planning to venture into the production of solar energy

Solar panels on the rooftop at the Two Rivers Mall, Nairobi. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

KenGen is conducting a feasibility study on having solar panels on hydro dams to increase electricity production.

With water levels in the dams dropping due to drought, the power generator noted that this technology would assist the country tap in more renewable energy.

The company exuded confidence that it would phase out thermal power by 2030 as one way of addressing the soaring prices of electricity. Currently, the company is working on a feasibility study on wind power in Marsabit and rehabilitating some geothermal and hydro plants to increase electricity generation.

KenGen acting CEO Abraham Serem said harsh weather had adversely affected water levels in the hydro-dams, thus reducing electricity generation.

He noted that plans were at an advanced stage to put up the solar panels, which would come in handy in pumping extra megawatts into the national grid.

"We have launched studies on coming up with solar panels on our hydro-dams, and this will be a win-win situation in terms of supply of renewable energy," he said.

Speaking in Olkaria Naivasha, Serem said the country is relying heavily on geothermal, wind and solar power by the day and using hydro-power at night.

"We have enough water in our dams to last us until the next rains, but we are limiting power generation from the hydro-plants due to the prevailing weather conditions," he said.

Serem further said that the company was committed to phasing out thermal power in the country by 2030 by seeking more energy, mainly geothermal.

"Currently, thermal power accounts for nine per cent of the energy produced in the country, and we are committed to hitting 100 per cent green energy by 2030," he said.

Serem assured investors that KenGen plans to make sure there was adequate energy supply in the proposed industrial park in Naivasha.

"We have done feasibility studies and currently, an environmental impact assessment study is going on the proposed industrial park," he said.

Geothermal Development manager Peketsa Mangi said that Olkaria had the potential of 10,000mw of geothermal power.

Mangi said that rehabilitation of several power plants in the geothermal-rich area of Olkaria had kicked off with projections that they would inject an extra 40mw into the grid.

"Parts of Suswa, Eburru, Menengai and others have the potential of more geothermal energy, and we are working with development partners in tapping this renewable energy," he said.

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