Kenya attracted a record of $1.4 billion (Sh145 billion) investments in renewable energy last year, making it the third-highest in the Middle East and Africa, deepening its shift from expensive sources of electricity.
The 2019 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report that tracked global trends in renewable energy investments shows Kenya overtook Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Rwanda to join the top six hotspots for green energy.
“Kenya saw an investment of $1.4 billion in 2018, the highest on record, and split almost equally between geothermal at $486 million (Sh50.4 billion), wind at $476 million (Sh49.4 billion) and solar at $467 million (Sh48.5 billion),” says UNEP in the report.
Kenya trailed South Africa and Morocco who attracted $4.1 billion (Sh426 billion) and $3.1 billion (Sh322 billion) respectively. The largest deals in the country were $366 million (Sh38 billion) for the 83 megawatts (MW) KenGen Olkaria I unit 6 geothermal plant, and $333 million (Sh34.6 billion) for the 100MW Actis Kipeto wind farm.
Geothermal accounted for 44.6 percent of electricity generation mix at the end of December last year followed by hydro at 29.8 percent. Thermal, which was at 24.5 percent in December 2017, dropped to 9.6 percent?
The increased investments boost in Kenya’s quest for cheap and clean energy like wind power which is priced at Sh8 per kilowatt-hours (kWh) compared to thermal at Sh15 per kWh.
The 300MW Turkana Wind Power farm and Garissa solar power plant joined the grid last year, relegating expensive thermal power to fourth position in Kenya’s electricity sources.
Kenya also earned UNEP recognition for the increased installation of small-scale solar systems. The 500kW project at Moi International Airport in Mombasa has been hailed as a first at an African air travel hub.
The UNEP report says that the Middle East and Africa have some of the most promising markets for renewables, especially solar, due to year-round sunshine and fast growth in electricity demand in most countries.
Header Image Credit: SALATON NJAU