Kenya is bestowed with abundant of energy resources unfortunately some of these remain untapped to date; despite the discovery of some of them in the recent past. A possible example is the crude oil in Turkana county after decades of futile search but consequently, drilling will take years.in addition wave and tidal power have not been harnessed, in July 25 Kenya announced it has plans to explore tidal energy in Indian ocean. Reason behind untapped resources can be; outdated technology, insufficient funds and limited skill personnel. Government and companies are investing in technologies to harness clean energy.
Renewable energy refers to energy that is collected from resources which are naturally replenished on human timescale such as sun wind and tides. It often provides energy in 4 important areas; electricity generation ,air and water cooling, transportation and rural energy.it is important because; energy security, climate change mitigation of climate change, reduction of poverty and contribute to education. They include hydropower, wind power, tidal, wave power, biofuel, and biomass and ethanol fuel
For wind energy, air flows are used to run the turbines.as wind speed increases power output increases. Location of wind farms are areas of strong and constant wind including offshore and high altitude area e.g. Ngong hills wind farm. The challenges of their extraction include; highly expensive due to the good equipment and quality work needed, reliance on meteorological data which can be misleading, site selection since areas in the north have high potential for wind.
Solar energy refers to energy harnessed from the sun using a range of technology such as photovoltaic system which converts light into electrical direct current. Kenya is the world leader in the number of solar power installed per capita.Some technology include; solar heater, solar cooker and solar drier. Issues affecting solar resource exploitation include; high upfront system cost, inadequate knowledge about the technology, minimal clarity regarding electricity grid extension plan and high import taxes on SHS components.
Energy in water can be harvested and used. The seven folk’s scheme generates most of the HEP; they include; Masinga, Gitaru, Kamburu, Kindaruma and Kiambere. Gitaru is the biggest in terms of installed and effective capacity.it has been hampered by insufficient policy framework, complicated licensing system, concession to access water rights, leave way for power production and ineffective electric power act.
Biomass is biological material from plants called lignocellulogic. Examples of biomass are stump remains, tree root and cane remains. It can be converted fibre, biofuel, processed to glucose to be used as biofuel, converted into methane gas or transportation fuel such as ethanol and biodiesel. It contributes 70 percent of final energy for rural use. Biofuel exist in north Eastern, Rift valley and Nyanza.Main issues concerning biomass are; high installation cost, inadequate capacity, technology failure rate and awareness, poor management and maintenance and scarce promotional activities.
Geothermal energy is from thermal energy generated and stored in the earth. Some of it originates from the original motion of the plant, most of it from decaying of minerals. Thermal energy determines the temperature of the matter.it is cost effective Great Rift Valley; Kenya was first east African country to build a geothermal company located at Olkaria and Eburru. Challenges associated with geothermal are; release of harmful gases, difficulties in transportation, high cost of installation, running out of steam due to drop in temperature, technical challenge since it requires hot rock and water and close proximity to be dealt with, money and potential exploration risk and it is suited to a particular region.
In conclusion, renewable energy is here to stay because it is typified by high upfront cost and low operating cost in an era of rising fuel cost, as innovation, competition and scale bring equipment cost down. This structure will get more attractive over time. Renewable energy, even large amount can be successfully integrated into grid by improved forecasting and demand side management and energy storage. Solar panels on the roof, wind turbines in the backyard and micro grids are all very nice but Kenya requires large solar plants which will require billions in investment in the coming years. Furthermore Kenya should study thoroughly the attempts to harness marine and tidal energy and improve on the existing renewable energy.
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