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Renewable Energy Potential

Renewable energy potential

Kenya has promising potential for power generation from renewable energy sources. Abundant solar, hydro, wind, biomass and geothermal resources led the government to seek the expansion of renewable energy generation to central and rural areas. Following a least-cost approach, the government has prioritised the development of geothermal and wind energy plants as well as solar-fed mini-grids for rural electrification.



Kenya has high insolation rates, with an average of 5-7 peak sunshine hours and average daily insolation of 4-6 kWh/m2. 10-14% of this energy can be converted into electricity due to the dispersion and conversion efficiency of PV modules. The total potential for photovoltaic installations is estimated at 23,046 TWh/year.

Solar power is largely seen as an option for rural electrification and decentralised applications. Photovoltaic stand-alone systems for households and public institutions have been subsidised for some time. The government is aiming to install an additional 500 MW and 300,000 domestic solar systems by 2030. Commercial and industrial applications are also becoming increasingly important: flower and vegetable farms have already pioneered and installed captive renewable energy systems to contribute to the power supply on their premises. In addition, hybrid PV-diesel island grids are multiplying: 18 MW of existing diesel-run stations will be retrofitted for the use of solar power in the next few years. The REA also plans to install green-field hybrid island grids at a total investment of about USD 40m.


Source: GeoModel Solar



Kenya has promising wind power potential. Depending on the turbine CF, potential output is 22,476 TWh/year (>20%), 4,446 TWh/year (>30%) or 1,739 TWh/year (>40%). Thanks to its topography, Kenya has some excellent wind regime areas. The northwest of the country (Marsabit and Turkana districts) and the edges of the Rift Valley are the two windiest areas (with average wind speeds of over 9m/s at 50 metres). The coast has lower but promising wind speeds (about 5-7m/s at 50m).


Source: UNEP: Kenya Country Report


It is expected that about 25% of the country will be suited to current wind technology. Kenya has 35 metrological stations. There is significant potential to use wind energy for wind farms connected to the grid, as well as for isolated grids and off-grid community electricity and water pumping. Kenya recently experienced a surge in wind energy installations for electricity generation. The largest windfarm in Africa (300 MW) is under construction in the Turkana area of northwestern Kenya. The Ngong hills area close to Nairobi also has 5.1 MW installed and private investors plan to install several MW of capacity. An average of 80-100 small wind turbines (400 W) have been installed to date, often as part of a hybrid PV-wind system with battery storage.



The potential for large-scale hydroelectric power development is estimated to be 1,500 MW, of which 1,310 MW is feasible for projects with a capacity of at least 30 MW. Of these, 434 MW has been identified in the Lake Victoria basin, 264 MW in the Rift Valley basin, 109 MW in the Athi River basin, 604 MW on Tana River basin and 146 MW on Ewaso Ngiro North River basin. However, the projected generation costs for these sites mean they are excluded from the Least Cost Power Development Plan.

Small, mini and micro hydroelectric systems (with capacities of less than 10 MW) are estimated to generate 3,000 MW nationwide. In 1997, Kenya’s Electric Power Act allowed independent power producers to supply electricity to the grid, but small decentralised schemes, such as micro hydropower, were not fully addressed. Around 55 river sites suitable for rural electrification have been identified as attractive commercial opportunities. Their maximum mean capacities would range from 50 kW to 700 kW.

The country’s agricultural activity produces large amounts of agricultural waste. These can be used to produce electricity by implementing biogas and biomass technologies. The 2014 National Energy Policy Draft also sets out biogas expansion targets of 10,000 small and medium-sized digesters by 2030. Biogas is considered a viable energy solution by a number of agricultural producers.



Kenya is endowed with geothermal resources, mainly in the Rift Valley. Geothermal and wind energy have comparably low electricity production costs, and potential capacity is 10 GW for geothermal and a minimum of 1 GW for wind. Conservative estimates suggest geothermal potential in the Kenyan Rift at 2,000 MW, whereas the total national potential is put at between 7,000 and 10,000 MW. Production started in 1981 when a 15 MW plant was commissioned in Olkaria. KenGen and an independent power producer currently produce a total of 129 MW. Geothermal power has been identified as a cost-effective power option in Kenya’s Least Cost Power Development Plan. Exploration for geothermal energy in the high-potential areas of the Kenyan Rift are ongoing.


2014 Draft National Strategy, renewable energy expansion plans until 2030



+500 MW
+300,000 solar home systems
+700,000 solar water heating units



+10,000 biodigesters
+1,200 MW of biomas co-generation



Geothermal Energy

+5,500 MW


Small hydro generation

+300 MW



Wind Energy

+3,000 MW


Key market segments

The following market segments can be regarded as promising for the application of renewable energy for electricity generation. This potential includes, but is not limited to the following:

Grid-connected power plants
Rural electrification/mini-grids
Rural electrification/stand-alone for household/small business application

Grid-connected/stand-alone captive power plants for industry and institutions (flowers, vegetables, fruit, tea, schools)
Rural electrification/biogas plants for communities

Grid-connected small-scale power plants (solar home systems)
Grid-connected large-scale power plants
Grid-connected/stand-alone captive power plants for industry, commerce and institutions (flowers, vegetables, tea, fruits, office buildings, tourism, telecommunications, hospitals)
Rural electrification/mini-grid retrofitting and green-field (community)

Grid-connected large power plants
Rural electrification/small, mini and micro hydro plants (community)

Grid-connected power plants

Key figures

Available statistics:
Official languages
English, Swahili
Population (2014), m
Compound Annual (GDP) Growth Rate, (2011-2015), %
Population growth (2014), %
GDP per capita (2015), USD (current rate)
Rural population (2013), % of total
Ease of Doing Business Index (2014)
136 (of 189)
Median age of population (2014 est.), years
National currency
Kenyan Shilling
Installed generating capacity (2014), MW
Installed fossil fuel capacity (2014), MW
Hydro capacity (2014), MW
Other RE capacity (2014), MW
Renewable electricity output (2014), % of total electricity output excl. hydroelectric
Planned short-term expansion, 2013-2016, MW
Average distribution and transmission losses (2012), % of output
Net electricity imports (2012), GWh
Peak demand (2012), MW
Per capita electricity consumption (2012), kWh
Electrification rate, total (2012), %
Electrification rate, urban (2012), %
Electrification rate, rural (2012), %
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