REC conference to steer renewable energy investment in Kenya.
In last year’s Paris climate negotiations, hundreds of leaders all over the globe came together with a primary goal in mind: to discuss a low-carbon world, a world that isn’t run by carbon-producing fuels but one that is solely dependent on readily available renewable energy.
Renewable energy sources such as geothermal, hydro-electric power, wind and solar power have played an important role in driving growth in energy access, accounting for over 60% of Kenya’s energy. We are however still heavily dependent on domestic use biomass, which largely comprises of charcoal which has resulted in rapid depletion of Kenya’s water towers. The result of this is unreliable rainfall patterns, long persistent droughts among others.
However, there is a growing need for Kenya to sustainably harness and commercialize on renewable energy sources available. We have seen the evidence from most companies and producers making more products and using more services that are not only sustainable but also environmentally friendly.
In Nairobi, the UK Government, Barclays Bank of Kenya and the Kenyan Government last week held a ‘deal-making’ summit, bringing together leading players in the local renewable energy sector with investors from the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom-Kenya Renewable Energy Conference (REC 100) aims to achieve investment pledges into Kenya’s renewable energy sector that will build a strong pipeline of new energy capacity to accelerate the nation’s pace of electrification.
The Conference brought together 100 representatives from Kenyan and British firms across a range of low carbon solutions and saw the UK commit Kshs 70.5 billion to support the development of strategic renewable energy projects in Kenya. This all falls under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Governments in May of 2016 which also seeks to promote opportunities for private sector trade and investment in Kenya’s renewable energy sector.
Speaking at the conference, CEO of Barclays Bank of Kenya Jeremy Awori said that the bank’s expertise in investment financing, expansive knowledge of the energy sector and its technologies, position them to take advantage of falling renewable energy costs by partnering with the right investors to help the country achieve the government’s 5000MW plan by 2017. With the increasing demand for renewable energy, one might expect an increased rise in these products; it is however the complete opposite. For example, the purchase and installation of solar panels cost less than your average income spent on lighting your house via the electric grid. Renewables are therefore not just environmentally beneficial, they are also far more economical and this is something the Kenyan government needs to fully utilize.
Despite the strong growth in the energy sector in the last decade, the country still has a low electrification rate by development standards which means that more power projects have to be developed in order to achieve the government’s targets and accessible pricing.
Energy is a corner stone of Kenya’s Vision 2030. In achieving new energy investment pledges, Kenya holds the advantage of considerable renewable energy potential. Kenya has one of the most active renewable energy sector in Africa –second only to South Africa in terms of investment. We also enjoy longer hours of more intense sunshine than leading solar producers such as Germany, as well as extensive geothermal resource along the Rift Valley & have ambitious targets to lead the way in innovative new technology such as wave power and tidal stream.