In the midst of rapid population growth, Kenya's greenhouse gas emissions are expected to increase rapidly while inadequate access to affordable energy is limiting social opportunities for the poor, women and children. Gender disparities are drawing back social development of communities and families. However, through a long-term development strategy called Vision 2030, Kenya has identified energy as one of the critical foundations and enablers of a socio-economic transformation envisioned for the country. Parallel with this initiative, Kenya has a pivotal opportunity to follow a low carbon development path. The government developed a National Climate Change Response Strategy in 2010 that integrates climate change dimensions into national policies and programs, and developing the renewable energy sector has shown great promise in enhancing access to energy.
Kenya’s energy sector faces daunting challenges, characterized by high cost and insufficient supply. With nearly 80% of Kenyans living without access to basic energy services, a top priority for the government is to improve access to adequate and affordable energy supply. Existing energy supply is heavily and unsustainably dependent upon hydroelectric power, and rapid energy demand growth means that Kenya must find new ways to provide crucial energy services to its people. Renewable energy resources offer one option for helping Kenya to meet its energy challenges. The country possesses bountiful wind, solar, small hydro, biomass, and geothermal potential. For example, Kenya has nearly 7,000 MW geothermal potential, enough power to meet around three times Kenya’s annual energy use. Yet these resources remain largely undeveloped. Key barriers inhibiting the expansion of Kenya’s renewable energy sector include economic and financial limitations, insufficient technical and human capacity, and various social constraints. Only about 200 MW of Kenya’s geothermal potential is currently exploited. Lacking access to affordable energy bears negative implications for poor households and for women in particular, leading to adverse economic, health, and education outcomes.
...the amount of geothermal power in MW that the government has targeted for development by 2030
With a rapidly growing demand for electricity coupled with high dependence on hydroelectric power that has become unreliable, to go with high cost of supply, a low access rate and climate change risks, the government seeks to promote equitable access to quality energy services at the least cost while protecting the environment. Renewable energy is expected to play a key role. As geothermal, wind and solar are particularly abundant in Kenya, the government has introduced several policies to expedite development of these resources while SREP funding will help remove some of the technical capacity, economic, financial and social constraints.