by Bedah Mengo
NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- For about five
years now, Kenya has been injecting more power from geothermal
and hydro sources into the national grid as it cuts production
from thermal sources.
The country produces geothermal
electricity from wells located in the Rift Valley while for
hydro, it has several dams situated in Eastern and western
Thermal energy, on the other hand, is produced from power
plants that use diesel and fuel oil.
Of the three, geothermal has been the biggest source of
electricity due to its reliability, followed by hydro and
However, all this has changed due to erratic weather that has
forced Kenya to alter its energy production from the three
The percentage of thermal electricity injected into the
national grid has risen considerably to make up for hydro
generation affected by low water levels following poor rains in
the last two years.
Latest economic data from the Kenya National Bureau of
Statistics showed Monday that Kenya is generating up to 274
million Kilowatts per hour (KWh) of electricity from thermal
sources every month, which is three times more than it did over
a year ago.
Generation of electricity from thermal sources had dropped to
a low of 92 million KWh in May 2016 but has been rising over the
months as hydro generation experiences challenges.
In January, thermal power generation stood at 197 million KWh
and rose to peak at 274 million KWh in June.
The rise pushes thermal power in the East African nation’s
energy mix to 32 percent of the electricity consumed, against
hydropower 21 percent.
In June, Kenya generated from hydro sources 183 million KWh
of electricity as production for the first time in many years
fell below 200 million KWh.
Hydropower production has been on a steady decline closing
2016 in December at 299 million KWh and starting January at 252
On the other hand, production from geothermal stood at 376
million KWh in June having remained stable throughout the
The source contributes about 45 percent of power in the
In 2015, Kenya injected 280 megawatts of cheaper geothermal
energy to the national grid, pushing up installed capacity from
1,765 megawatts (MW) in June 2013 to 2,327MW as at December
The drop in hydro-power production has been attributed to
erratic rains in the last two years that have significantly
reduced the amount of water in the dams that include Seven Forks
Dam on Tana River, Sondu-Miriu in western Kenya, and Turkwel
Gorge in the North West.
The increased use of thermal sources translate into higher
monthly bills for consumers since they have to pay for fuel levy
that is linked to the amount of diesel-generated power on the
Electricity tariffs, which started to rise in December, last
year, have sustained an upward trend albeit marginally as the
Meteorological Department forecasts dry weather conditions in
"The average retail tariffs increase due to surge in fuel
cost charge occasioned by a rise in petrol thermal power in the
energy mix by 3 percent.
"This was mainly due to low water levels at Sondu-Miriu and
Seven Forks dams necessitating running of petrol based thermal
power plants to cover the short-fall," the Energy Regulatory
Commission noted recently.
Last month, households that consumed 200 KWh of power paid 36
U.S. dollars compared to 33 dollars in July 2016.
On the other hand, those that consumed 50 KWh per hour paid
5.6 dollars compared to 5 dollars in 2016.
"Electricity tariffs are among the biggest contributors of
inflation in the country.
"If they rise, inflation rises.
"If the current trend continues, electricity costs would add
burden to consumers and set them up for higher inflation, which
now stands at 7.5 percent since electricity is used to produce
many goods," said Henry Wandera, an economics lecturer in
TSAVO EAST -- One year with no water in this arid
drinking spot. Water is such an issue for the animals and you
will see from the attached photos of one of the dry water holes,
the lorry dispensing water, and lastly animals drinking at the
Lorry loads of water
trucked in for the water holes of Tsavo East
TSAVO EAST --
The wildlife in Tsavo East National Park has been
hit hard with the lack of rain and many water holes have dried
up, report Sue and Howard Lawrence-Brown from Mombasa.
Jiten Malde of Texprint, Mombasa Limited, together with Tiju
Aziz a resident in Voi, Jiten’s family and friends recently got
together to raise money to hire lorry loads of water that are
trucked in for the water holes at posts No. 104, 102, Irrima 1
and 2 and Ndololo.