Kenya is one of those countries that are blessed with abundant natural resources which we sometimes take for granted. Some of the available resources which we have not exploited enough are water, wind, coal and solar energy for electricity generation. Over the years Kenya has been over reliant on hydrothermal energy to provide electricity to the country. This has produced by one company and this has created a monopoly that is not good for the consumer. Electricity bills have been high over the last couple of years, in part because of high fuel prices.
There is good news for the country because there is a plan to build a coal plant in Kenya. Amu Power Limited will be investing US $2 billion to build a 981.5MW coal-fired thermal electricity-generating plant. The plant should be up and running by the end of 2017. It will be in the Manda Bay area of Lamu County.
This project by Amu Power aims to create at least 1,000 jobs during the construction phase. The construction will contribute greatly to the economy by providing employment, supporting the local supply chain and developing infrastructure like roads and housing. The investment of Ksh. 180 billion includes the power plant, a jetty, and a modern housing complex for at least 300 workers.
Construction of the Amu Power Plant will commence towards the end of 2015 and is expected to be operational within 21 months. The coal power plant is currently the largest private sector led infrastructure project in East and Central Africa. The project is expected to bring down the cost of power for domestic and industrial use as it will provide reliable and affordable electricity. This has been an issue with the current power supply which is affected by water levels so when dam levels are low there is rationing of electricity which is not great for a country that aims to attract investments in areas like manufacturing and technology.
This project is part of the Government’s plan to produce 5,000MV of power in 40 months commencing September 2015. This is a step in the right direction as Kenya follows in the footsteps of other countries like the USA. UK, Germany, South Africa, and China which have used coal energy to support economic development and boost power supply.
Coal is one of the most affordable and abundant energy sources. A coal power plant burns coal to produce electricity by heating water, which turns into steam and this drives turbine generators to produce electricity.
Amu Power Limited which won the contract to build the thermal power plant in 2014 is a consortium comprised of Gulf Energy Limited (developer and co-sponsor) and Centum Investment Company Limited (co-sponsor). They will operate the coal power plant for 25 years.
To ensure environmental concerns are addressed Amu Power is conducting an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment study. The report will be released this month. They have also had meetings with the community to discuss the project. Amu plans to work In compliance with the latest World Bank standards for Thermal Power Plants. This requires using the latest clean coal technologies to reduce emissions and ensure it does not pollute the environment.