Drought to lower hydroelectricity generation in Kenya

The Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Energy Charles Keter has stated that if it does not rain in the next two weeks, they will be forced to close down the Masinga Dam due to low water levels.

The 40MW Masinga Hydroelectric Power Station has been shut down twice due to lack of enough water.

High dependency on hydroelectricity

Another hydropower plant that has been affected by the bad weather conditions is the Sondu Miriu hydroelectric power station, which is supposed to generate 80MW, and is currently producing less than 10MW.

“Last year was very bad. However, if it rains in March or April, everything will be okay. We are working with regional partners to develop a proposed dam to generate electricity in the western region. Turkwel Dam is the only power plant which is operating well, unlike Sondu Miriu which is a runoff dam,” Keter said.

The country relies mainly on hydroelectricity, which is cheaper. If the dam levels go down, we will have to use thermals. In Mombasa, we used to run 100% on thermal, right now Kenya is using 80MW of geothermal direct from Olkaria.

Keter said that the government would focus more on western region to ease electricity generation.

Private sector involvement

He said private sector involvement is crucial to increase funding in electricity generation projects. Kenya’s geothermal potential is about 17,000MW.

“We are doing only 800MW. Geothermal is capital intensive; we are number five in the world in terms of geothermal generation. The US leads with about 3,600MW.

“We only have one investor doing geothermal power at Olkaria, about 150MW. We will also be doing gas power plants here in Mombasa, about 700MW,” he said.