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Actions Kenya is taking to break free from fossil fuels

By Ordia Akelo | May 20th 2016

The demand for energy in Kenya has grown substantially over the past five years. Going by Vision 2030 and The Least Cost Power Development Plan, there are clear indications that it will grow further. There is a need to bridge the gap between demand and supply. As we go about filling in the deficit, we should focus on diversifying our energy sources from fossil fuels to more reliable, clean, affordable and renewable energy.

Currently, Kenya depends on biomass (68%), hydrocarbons (22%) electricity (9%), solar and other forms of energy (1%) for its energy needs with petroleum and electricity dominating the commercial energy. With the increasing instability of fossil fuels prices, its eminent depletion and its obvious impact on the environment, there is the need to break off the dependency chain.

The National Climate Change Response Strategy shows Kenya has not been left behind in this rallying call to break free from fossil fuels dependence in order to significantly reduce Green House Gas Emissions. There has been effort by the government, private sector, public and civil society groups to stop the dependency on fossil fuels.

M-Kopa solar might be the first thing that comes to the mind of any Kenyan the moment sustainable energy is mentioned. The product has been able to shift rural households dependency on paraffin for lighting through rent to own solar products.

The off the grid products which contain a solar panel, batteries and lights have been a bright light to several household that could only dream of electricity. So far it has been able to connect 330,000 homes in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda with over 500 new homes being connected daily.

The government on its part has embarked on a full exploration and exploitation of Kenya’s renewable energy sources. Given Kenya’s position along the equator, solar energy is a reliable source of energy for Kenya throughout the year.

The launch of a programme for installation of PV panels in educational and health institutions in arid and semi-arid areas by the Ministry of Energy, under Rural Electrification Programme has seen an increase in the number of home systems installed in the rural areas.

Wind is also set to be a major contributor to our power grid with the spotlight on the Lake Turkana Wind Project which has the potential of adding 300 MW to the current power supply. This will supplement the 5.1 MW farm in Ngong which is managed by KenGen.

Geothermal energy exploitation is also underway as the Ministry of Energy, GDC, KenGen and other partners have identified over fourteen geothermal prospects along the East African Rift. These fourteen sites alone if utilized will be able to generate 5,000MWe to 10,000MWe. This is more than enough from one energy source for the set target of 3,000MW by 2030.

The civil society has not been left behind. On May 19 2016 from 7.30am-11.00am, the International Youth Council invited the Kenyan civil society to rally and demand that delegates to the UN climate treaty take decisive action to address the corrosive influence of the fossil fuel industry on climate policy.

This was an event on fossil fuel industry capture of climate policy and what we can do about it. It also presented findings of the report entitled “Fueling the Fire” detailing the big corporations that bankrolled COP 21 in Paris and called on a global investigation into the corporate capture of THE UNFCCC.

The action is part of a global series of actions calling for governments to launch a global investigation into industry interference at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

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These actions should not be limited to the government, corporate and civil societies, it should be a shared responsibility by Kenyans and the world over to see that we cut off the fossil fuel dependency chain.

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