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Challenges and Mitigation strategies in renewable energy evacuation in Kenya

Kenya seeks to improve the livelihood of its citizens and empower them economically and socially. In doing so, a development agenda encompassing the Vision 2030 and the Big 4 Agenda were developed with a main focus on achieving sustainable development goals.  The Big 4 Agenda items include Manufacturing, Affordable Health Care, Food Security & Affordable Housing. In order to achieve these goals, the Energy Sector and Ketraco in particular will need to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and clean energy.

The following are the key objectives in enabling the Big 4 national development objectives:

1.   Increase electricity generation capacity from cheaper, sustainable and reliable energy sources – lower cost of power (To cost about 9 US cents for industries and 10 US cents for domestic tariff by 2022)

2.   Expand and upgrade the transmission and distribution network infrastructure – reduce power loss, lower cost of power, increased revenue generation, stable power network

3.   Increase electricity access country wide to increase the uptake of power and grid / off-grid network extension – socio-economic growth, increased and devolved industries. To achieve universal access by 2022


What does this mean? 

The cost of generating energy from renewable sources such as wind, solar and geothermal has proven to reduce the overall cost to the consumer. The low cost of power and stable power network is highly dependent on increasing the renewable energy that we consume on the Kenyan grid.


What is Kenya’s current installed energy composition?

Installed MW





Thermal (MSD)


Thermal (GT)










Total Capacity MW



What are the main challenges?

The main challenges faced in renewable energy evacuation can be summarised as:

·Location- the richest sources of renewable energy are located far from main points of consumption and require construction of long lengths of transmission lines which in turn require high cost of way leave acquisition and strategic resettlement plan for those affected by the project. This increases the overall project cost

·Variability- renewable sources do not provide a constant source of energy which then has a significant impact on grid stability.


How can we mitigate these challenges?

Mitigating these risks requires synergy from the different players and stakeholders in the energy sector. Furthermore, transmission planning should consider both generation and transmission to maximise the net benefit to the consumer in order to recover cost.

In distribution, KPLC’s implementation of the last mile connectivity program aims to provide universal access to all households by 2022. In 2018, a total of 6.8 million Kenyans were connected to the grid based on this program. In transmission, KETRACO plans to construct 12,000km of lines by 2035. To date, KETRACO has completed 2,328km lines. The construction of a total of 2,508km of transmission lines are ongoing. 4,300km of transmission lines are in the list of priority pipeline projects.


This is why these strategies are important:

1. Extra transmission is often worth the cost

2. Develop transmission proactively 

3. Maximise the net benefits of renewable transmission

4. Transmission tariffs for generation should use efficient pricing 

5. Broadly allocate uncovered transmission costs


These approaches reflect the need to change the philosophy of the planning function from a reactive to a more proactive mode and, when required, to efficiently improve the cost allocation and pricing rules of the transmission system


What next?

Analysis of location-specific renewable resource potential and power delivery profiles are critical elements of assessing future transmission infrastructure upgrade and expansion requirements. Future utility resource plans need to engage a diverse range stakeholders ERC, the regional utilities, local distribution and transmission utilities, generating companies, regulatory agencies, energy partners, environmental interests, and investors in a proactive rather than reactive approach.




  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Insightful thoughts. I like the idea of the need to change the philosophy of the planning function from a reactive to a more proactive mode.

    Keep enlightening us! 👏👏👏👏

    1. Kazi kwako madam engineer! The planning department is lucky to have you in their team. Thank you for reading.

  3. Great read Carol.
    Quick question, what is the mitigation for the variability of renewable energy?

    1. A variety of options are available to address this challenge. In my opinion, maximizing the net benefits of renewable energy transmission is one such option, where the key considerations in selecting methods to address the variability and uncertainty of the renewable generation are the cost-effectiveness of the method and the characteristics of the existing grid system. Grid infrastructure, operational practices, the generation fleet, and regulatory structure all impact the types of solutions that are most economic and viable. Generally, systems need additional flexibility to be able to accommodate the additional variability of renewables. Flexibility can be achieved through institutional changes, operational practices, storage, demand-side flexibility, flexible generators, and other mechanisms. We can also use advanced forecasting, fast dispatch, reserve management and even demand response just to mention a few.


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