Kenya to generate 50% of electricity from solar

Summary:By 2016, half of Kenya's electricity could come from the sun.

In Kenya, construction is set to begin this year on a series of solar power plants, totaling $1.2 billion, that will eventually generate about half of the country's electricity.  

As the Guardian reports:

Cliff Owiti, a senior administrator at the Kenya Renewable Energy Association, said the move will protect the environment and bring down electricity costs. "We hope that when the entire project is completed by 2016, more than 50% of Kenya's energy production will consist of solar. Already we are witnessing solar investments in Kenya such as a factory that was opened here in 2011 that manufactures solar energy panels."
Kenya already generates more than half of its electricity from hydroelectric and geothermal sources -- the majority from hydro. (Here's Kenya's electricity generation mix through the years.) But Kenya's hydro sources are drying up, according to Kenya Electricity Generating Company's outgoing managing director

Combine that with the country's growing demand for electricity of about eight percent a year and the fact that only about 16 percent of Kenya's population is connected to the electricity grid, and it's clear there's a big need for new sources of energy. If these solar plans materialize, the sun will play a major role in meeting those needs.

The other reason the turn to solar could be a big boost for Kenya is the elimination of devastating blackouts. As Owiti told the Guardian: "With high investments in solar, we will witness almost no blackouts." If so, it would be a major boost to the economy as blackouts continue to plague the country -- including last year's nationwide power outage -- and prove costly to businesses.

Photo: Flickr/teachandlearn

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Topics: Innovation

About

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter.

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