As is the case over almost the entire African continent, the main source of primary energy in Kenya is wood fuel, which accounts for about 70% of all energy consumed. The balance is supplied by petroleum (21%) and electricity (9%). A significant share of the electricity (over 60%) is produced from hydro power. The Government’s sector-development priorities aim to gradually shift the pattern of energy consumption towards modern forms of energy and expand the electricity grid in order to protect the environment and to provide energy forms necessary for economic growth.
Kenya has a well-developed industrial sector that consumes approximately 60% of the electricity sold. By far the fastest growing consumer sub-sector is that of medium commercial and industrial customers. Rural electrification is also growing (at 8.5% since 1997). These connections are undertaken with the support from the Kenyan government’s Rural Electrification Fund (REF), which The Kenya Power and Lighting Company Limited (KPLC) manages on behalf of the government. Some 13% of the population (3.2 million) has access to electricity. The goal is to provide electricity to about 20%of the rural population by 2010.
Poor grid infrastructure has resulted in a thriving private market for solar photovoltaic systems and a growing number of industries are investigating to the opportunities for on-site generation. Major potential in renewable energy sources in Kenya lies in biomass, solar, wind and mini/micro hydropower. Currently the country suffers a biomass (wood, charcoal) deficit which is estimated to be up to 60% of the demand. This imbalance causes considerable pressure on the remaining forest and vegetation stocks, thereby accelerating the processes of land degradation. In addition, biomass production for energy also competes with other forms of land use such as agriculture.
Despite the fact that some pilot projects on mini hydro power and wind power have already been undertaken, that the sugar industry already uses bagasse for its energy production, and some feasibility studies on biofuels have been carried out there remains a lot to be done to fully exploit the renewable energy potential. In 2002, improved wood stoves were used only by 4%of the population using wood as their energy source for cooking; the target for 2010 is 15%. According to the government target the share of improved stoves should be 80% by 2010. The energy efficiency programme in the form of improved charcoal stove introduction already in 1980’s has gradually increased the share of improved stoves up to nearly 50% (2002).
The development of renewable energy production and utilization falls under the responsibility of the Renewable Energy Department in the Ministry of Energy. The Department runs ten Energy Centres located in the major ecological zones to test technologies and disseminate information on renewable energy. The government is currently implementing a solar PV electrification programme of schools and other institutions in selected districts, which are remote from the national grid as part of a national strategy to enhance the contribution of renewable sources of energy to the overall energy supply mix.