Imports of cheaper power from Ethiopia to start in November

Kenya Power acting Chief Executive Geoffrey Muli. [File, Standard]

Kenya is set to start importing cheaper electricity from Ethiopia in November following the signing of a contract earlier this week between Kenya Power and Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP).

The move could see Kenya reduce reliance on costly thermal power plants that are called on whenever generation from cheaper plants such as hydro is not adequate to meet demand. The country expects to initially import some 200 megawatts (MW) and then scale up to 400MW within three years.

The Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) was signed Tuesday during the launch of KenGen's 83MW power plant at Olkaria in Naivasha. The Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) is expected to complete a transmission line that will facilitate power trade between the two countries ahead of the commencement of the PPA in November this year.

"The commercial operations are envisaged to commence on November 1, 2022, upon the joint testing and commissioning of the interconnector," said Kenya Power acting Chief Executive Geoffrey Muli.

"In the first three years, Kenya is to get a maximum firm capacity of 200MW and thereafter a maximum firm capacity of 400MW for the remainder of the 25 years of the PPA. The agreed tariff is competitive and will see Kenyans enjoy power at a lower cost. The energy is hydropower, which is considered clean, reliable and affordable."

He noted that EEP would be the second largest power supplier to Kenya Power after KenGen.

KenGen is the largest power producer in the country with an installed capacity of 1,900MW mostly made up of geothermal and hydro plants, which account for about two-thirds of Kenya's installed power generating capacity of 3,000MW.

Lake Turkana Wind Power has the second-largest installed capacity at 300MW but because of the intermittent nature of wind, it is difficult to feed the national electricity grid the 300MW.

Ethiopia generates about 90 per cent of its power from hydro sources. Its largest dam is the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Gerd), which has perennially put the country at loggerheads with Egypt over the use of River Nile's waters.

Though it produces 375MW, it is still a work in progress and is expected to produce 5,000MW when complete. This would potentially double Ethiopia's installed power generating capacity which currently stands at 4,965MW.

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