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Kenya’s hydropower drops to all time low

Data from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), indicates that hydropower generation dropped to 299 million kilowatt hours (kWh) last month, from 314.9 million units in November and 356.8 million units a month earlier, Business Daily Africa reported.

Hydropower bill increases

With hydroelectric power a cheaper form of electricity, aorund Sh3 ($0.02) per unit, residents are facing higher energy bills as costly diesel-generated power has had to kick into action.

Business Daily Africa reported: “Electricity bills have increased for three months consecutively, hitting a 16-month high this month due to Kenya Power’s increased uptake of expensive thermal power for supply to consumers amid a steep drop in hydropower.”

Media reported that the fuel cost levy, which is paid to diesel power generators, increased to Sh2.93 per kWh in January from Sh2.85 per unit in December and Sh2.34 in November.

Should the weather remain ‘dry’, the ministry has warned that prices will continue to rise.

Energy secretary Charles Keter said that power bills could hit a 26-month high in March if the drought persists with the fuel levy expected to hit Sh3.52 per unit, media reported.

Hydroelectric generation on the low

“At 299 million units in December, Kenya’s hydropower generation is the lowest since April 2015.

“The drop saw hydropower account for only 3% of the energy mix consumed by Kenyans in December, down from 37% a month earlier and 41% in November,” Business Daily Africa reported.

The media house added: “To compensate for this shortfall, thermal power is up to 18.6% from 18.3% in November and 15% a month earlier. Because thermal power is expensive, it is only produced when there is a shortage of cheaper hydropower and available geothermal energy has been fully injected into the grid.”

According to reports, the dry conditions has affected the Seven Forks hydro stations on the Tana River — the country’s main supplier of hydropower and Sondu Miriu hydro station in Kisumu.

Power generation at the stations has almost been halved to 6.5 million kWh daily, down from about 12 million units when the dams are full, according to power producer KenGen.

Ashley Theron
Ashley Theron-Ord is based in Cape Town, South Africa at Clarion Events-Africa. She is the Senior Content Producer across media brands including ESI Africa, Smart Energy International, Power Engineering International and Mining Review Africa.