Excess power is fine, says ministry

The government has played down the impact of Kenya’s surplus electricity production on the retail cost of power.

Kenya had an installed electricity generating capacity of 2,766 megawatts (MW), while peak demand stands at about 1,938MW, pointing to an excess capacity of about 30 per cent.

While having surplus electricity is a universally accepted practice, to take care of such instances breakdown and scheduled maintenance of power plants, it also exposes consumers to higher bills as they bear the burden of energy that is not consumed.

Energy Principal Secretary Joseph Njoroge said the government had been cautious in its planning to balance between supply and demand. He added that though Kenya’s production outpaces demand by a huge margin, there are thermal power plants that cannot be called upon to supply power throughout and are only needed to bridge output when other electricity sources cannot meet demand.

Installed capacity

He also noted there are plants that use wind and solar and are not always available. “The oversupply that may be perceived is because we have more installed capacity than peak demand. However, it is important to note that out of the installed capacity that we have, there are thermal plants, which are not supposed to be utilised throughout,” the PS said.

“If they are used a lot, the retail tariff will be too high because cost of fuel, which is about two times the fixed cost of generation. They are supposed to be used during peak times. We also have intermittent source like wind and solar and you cannot talk of them as being very reliable to continuous supply of power.”

Njroroge spoke this week at KenGen’s annual general meeting as he responded to the company’s shareholders who expressed concerns about the amount of power being supplied to the national grid.

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