The green energy sector in Kenya attracted a record US$1.4 billion investments in 2018, emerging the third highest in Middle East and Africa (MEA), The 2019 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report has stated.
The report that tracked global trends in renewable energy investments shows Kenya overtook Egypt, United Arabs Emirates, Jordan and Rwanda to join top six hotspots for green energy, deepening its shift from expensive sources of electricity.
According to the report Kenya saw investment of US$1.4 billion in 2018, the highest on record, and split almost equally between geothermal at US$486 million, wind at US$476 million and solar at US$467.
Kenya emerged third after South Africa (US$4.1 billion) and Morocco (US$3.1 billion).
The largest deals in the country were US$366 million for the 83-megawatt (MW) KenGen Olkaria I unit 6 geothermal plant, and US$333 million for the 100MW Actis Kipeto wind farm.
Geothermal accounted for 44.6 percent of electricity generation mix at the end of December last year followed hydro at 29.8 percent. Thermal, which was at 24.5 percent in December 2017, dropped to just 9.6 percent.
The increased investments boost Kenya’s quest for cheap and clean energy given that for instance, wind power is price per kilowatt hours (kWh) is almost twice as low as the price of thermal per kWh.
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The Turkana Wind Power farm and Garissa solar power plant joined the grid last year, relegating expensive thermal power to fourth position in Kenya’s electricity sources.
Kenya also earned UNEP recognition for increased installation of small-scale solar systems. The 500kW project at Moi International Airport in Mombasa has been hailed as a first at an African air travel hub.
The UNEP report says that Middle East and Africa has some of the most promising markets for renewables, especially solar, due to year-round sunshine and fast growth in electricity demand in most countries.