The African Clean Energy Race: Kenya vs. Ethiopia

Team Kenya

Kenya’s clean energy portfolio is built around projects in geothermal, wind and solar.  It is currently the world’s 9th largest geothermal producer but has much greater potential - 202 MW exploited / with a potential of 35 – 50 times that figure.  Its star project is the Ormat Olkaria III geothermal project in the Rift Valley, which is also where most of its best runners are from.  The project first started operations in 2000 and has progressively added capacity.  Its third generation unit came online this year and the project announced more good news on December 4th - it will bring a forth plant online at the complex to bring its capacity to 134 MW.  The plant already provides enough power to support over 200,000 Kenyan households.  

Kenya has some of the best wind speeds in the world but isn’t yet living up to its potential in harnessing this resource.  The project that could change that is the Lake Turkana Wind Power consortium (LTWP).  This project aims to build a 300 MW plant, making it the largest in Africa.  The project has faced some delays, but the good news is funding has been recently secured and the project is now scheduled to deliver in 2016 / 2017.  The project projects a number of benefits: a decrease in power costs, a reduction in the energy capacity deficit and stabilisation of the power situation in the country.  In addition, this new energy source will help Kenya save on foreign exchange imports of oil.  LTWP is definitely a big bet as it is the single largest private investment in Kenya. 

Lake Turkana Wind Project, Kenya

Lake Turkana Wind Project, Kenya, Credit: Government of the Netherlands

With solar things are also starting to take off.  One of the most interesting stories is M-KOPA.  They provide solar home units that people can buy through pay-as-you-go payment plans.   M-KOPA added 60,000 customers in only 18 months and with that growth, M-KOPA is the kind of story we love at Cleanleap. Big solar farms also have potential in Kenya.  Announced earlier this year, the government and private sector has committed to invest $1.2B in nine solar power plants that will come online in the next few years.  This would make a dramatic improvement in the country’s installed capacity of renewable energy. 

READ ON: What does Team Ethiopia look like?