President William Ruto sworn in and reaffirms Kenya’s commitment to 100% clean energy by 2030

President William Ruto sworn in as 5e President of the Republic of Kenya. In his speech shortly after being sworn in as president, he reaffirmed Kenya’s commitment to transition to 100% clean energy by 2030.

Kenya has already been very successful in increasing the share of renewables in its power generation mix. According to the latest economic survey from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), in 2021, the total installed power generation capacity in Kenya increased by 5.4% to 2,990 MW. Total effective capacity increased by 5.6% to 2,858 MW over the same period. The KNBS report defines effective capacity as the maximum electrical output that a power plant is expected to achieve given current operating constraints. Total electricity generation increased by 7.0% to 12,414.7 GWh in 2021, and the good news is that 89.6% of this electricity was generated from renewable sources!

Here are some highlights of President Ruto’s speech today:

“One of my government’s main concerns will be climate change. In our country, women and men, young people, farmers, workers and local communities are suffering the consequences of the climate emergency. It’s not too late to respond. To address this threat, we must act urgently to keep global heating levels below 1.5°C, help those in need, and end dependence on fossil fuels.

“Africa has the opportunity to lead the world. We have huge potential for renewable energy. Reducing the costs of renewable energy technologies makes them the most viable source of energy. Kenya is on a clean energy transition that will support jobs, local economies and sustainable industrialization. In Kenya, we will lead this endeavor by reaffirming our commitment to transition to 100% clean energy by 2030. We call on all African states to join us in this journey.

“As members of the international community, we will support a successful climate summit in Africa in November, advocating for the provision of the finance and technologies needed for Africa to adapt to climate impacts, support those who have it. need and manage the transition”.

Kenya’s renewable energy sector relies on a good mix of geothermal, wind, hydro, and some large-scale solar. Kenya is already in the world’s top 10 in terms of electricity generation from geothermal energy, with nearly 1,000 MW of installed capacity. The Great Rift Valley in Kenya has an estimated geothermal potential of 10,000 MW. This clean and reliable energy potential puts Kenya in an excellent position to reach 100% renewable energy very quickly. As the economy grows, electricity from geothermal energy can be a key anchor. We also hope to see some growth in the utility-scale solar space. The solar sector still contributes only 1% of total production.

Kenya’s progress has attracted interest from local and international players looking to leverage this renewable energy-dominated grid to catalyze the uptake of electric vehicles. Other stakeholders are carefully exploring the prospects for a green hydrogen economy in Kenya. Some of the areas identified have a strong focus on using geothermal resources to power electrolyzers to produce green ammonia for local fertilizer production. Local fertilizer production will be a key boost to the Kenyan economy, with widespread impacts on job creation and reduction in the import bill through the import substation.

All of this locally generated clean and renewable electricity can also help to boost Kenya’s energy security as well as reduce costs in the transport sector. Kenya has a lot to gain by replacing a significant share of imported petroleum products with this clean, locally generated electricity by accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles. Imports of petroleum products represent a significant portion of Kenya’s import bill. With Kenya’s ever widening trade deficit, this import substitution will need to be addressed as soon as possible. According to the latest economic survey from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), there was a 30.9% growth in imports in 2021. The increase in imports widened the trade deficit by Kshs 999.9 billion in 2020 to KSh 1.4 trillion in 2021. That’s a trade deficit of about US$11.8 billion! Imports increased from KShs 1,600 billion in 2020 to KShs 2,100 billion, driven mainly by an increase in imports of petroleum products, says the report.

Kenya’s trade deficit over the past 5 years

Source: KNBS Economic Survey 2022

During the campaign period of Kenya’s just-concluded elections, President Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza coalition put together a pretty impressive manifesto that included support for electric mobility and renewable energy. In the electricity section of the document, Kenya Kwanza said that:

“Electricity is a vital economic and social service essential to the production of essential services such as health and safety and the quality of life of citizens. While generation capacity has increased significantly in recent years, our electricity is expensive and unreliable. This should not be the case, given that we are blessed with considerable geothermal, solar, wind and hydro resources that can provide inexpensive and environmentally friendly energy. One of the main contributors to the cost and quality of electricity is the aging transmission and distribution network. The investment needed to modernize the network is considerable, all the more so in the difficult financial situation in which the country finds itself, but it is imperative. Cheap clean energy can be a strong value proposition to attract energy-intensive generation for the global market in Kenya.

Kwanza Kenya also said Kenya stands to benefit: “A disruptive technology landscape that portends a transformation of the electricity industry perhaps on the same scale as the mobile phone revolution disrupted landline telephony” . This includes “the rapidly falling costs of renewable energy which, as noted, Kenya has in abundance. The cost of utility-scale energy storage is also falling sharply, helping to overcome the limitations of solar and wind power intermittency. On the consumer side, stand-alone solar power and micro-grids are increasingly cost-effective alternatives to grid power for home and even commercial consumers. Transportation is going to be a big consumer of electricity as electric vehicles will replace fossil fuel vehicles.

Kenya Kwanza is committed to:

Return Kenya Power. “We will decouple development initiatives from government, leaving Kenya Power to operate on commercial principles. A policy, regulatory and financial framework for off-grid community development projects (mini and micro-grids) will be instituted. Improve reliability, reduce the cost of electricity.

Kwanza Kenya came up with a 3-point plan to reduce the cost of electricity, namely:

  • Mobilize the resources needed to overhaul the transmission and distribution network
  • Accelerate the development of geothermal resources
  • Develop a liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage facility in Mombasa, with a view to phasing out heavy fuel oil (HFO) from the power generation portfolio. This will also help meet Kenya’s emission reduction commitments

Regarding e-mobility, the Government of Kenya Kwanza has pledged to:

  • Deploy electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in all urban areas and along highways
  • Provide financial and tax incentives for public service vehicles and commercial carriers to convert to electric vehicles
  • Leverage the financial support that will be provided to the boda boda sector, through the Hustler Fund, to grow the nascent electric vehicle (EV) and motorcycle assembly industry

Kenya Kwanza also stated that “Kenya is well endowed with cheap renewable energy resources. Accelerating the transition to electric vehicles is a win-win proposition in terms of contributing to Kenyans’ commitment to lower emissions, cheaper transport and tapping into the large local and regional motorcycle market ( ~500,000 units per year) to build an electric vehicle industry.

  • Create incentives for the adoption of electric transit systems in all cities and towns

It was really good to see that the expansion in the use of Kenya’s vast renewable energy resources such as geothermal, as well as the increased penetration of variable renewables such as wind and solar, combined to utility-scale battery storage to address intermittency issues, are now included in political party election agendas. Kenya has the potential to lead the electric mobility industry on the continent and it is encouraging to note that political parties recognize this as well. The potential for the green hydrogen economy is also part of the conversation. With such private sector interest, it is always good to see government buy-in to support these developments. Now that President Ruto has received the mandate, we hope to see the accelerated implementation of some of the projects in his manifesto focused on electric mobility and renewable energy.

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