Kenya’s ambition to increase its power generation suffered a setback on Tuesday as a wind power project worth $114 million was cancelled. The project which would have generated 6o.8 Megawatt (MW) of electricity on completion was expected to further diversify the country’s energy mix away from hydropower, which currently accounts for 37.7 percent of the country’s total energy supply.
Presently, Kenya generates as little as 25.5 MW from the wind, constituting about 1.2 percent of total energy supply, which would have increased to 3.9 percent if the project had gone through.
Kinangop Wind Park, the developers of the project in a statement noted that the persistent protest by locals had precluded workers from building the wind park. “Due to the consequent material delay, project funds have been depleted and the project can no longer be completed by the shareholders,” it said.
The project which was to be sited at Nyandarua County, central Kenya was expected to provide electricity to 150,000 homes by 2018. But the locals resisted it for a variety of reasons, ranging from displacement of farmlands to the perceived health hazards, despite the grim reality of lack of adequate distribution of electricity in the county.
Its failure is however a setback for the East African nation’s drive to meet its target of increasing its power generation capacity by 5,000MW in a period of five years to 6,762MW by 2017. As at March 2015, Kenya generates 2,127MW of electricity which Power Africa, an initiative by Barack Obama, the American President, considers too low for an economy aspiring to become an upper middle income one. “Kenya’s economy has been growing at approximately 5.1% per year over the last 10 years; however, economic growth is constrained by an insufficient supply of electricity,” it said in a report titled ‘Investment Brief for The Electricity Sector in Kenya. “As of the end of March 2015, Kenya has an installed generation capacity of only 2,295 MW or 0.049 kW per capita. Although this has grown from an installed capacity base of 1,885 MW as of the end of June 2014, it is still very low.”
In 2004, Kenya embarked on more energy reforms to resuscitate its ailing power sector. Some of the measures taken included the restructuring of the Electricity Regulatory Board to Energy Regulatory Commission while saddling it with an expanded mandate encompassing the entire energy sector. However, challenges such as weak transmission and distribution networks, low countrywide electricity access and overreliance on the vulnerable hydropower, has persisted.