7 January 2013 – High rainfall during 2012 reduced the volume of diesel used for power in Kenya according to economic data from the country. Recent data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows that during the first nine months of 2012 heavy rainfall increased hydroelectric generation by 39% and reduced thermal generation by 25.2%.

High rainfall in the first half of last year cut reliance on thermal generated electricity while record high prices of fuel also reduced consumption. Kenya relies on diesel for electricity generation mostly during the dry season when water levels at the main electricity generating dams drop.

The KNBS data shows that consumption of heavy diesel oil, mostly used in electricity generation, dropped by 18% from 20,600 tonnes over the corresponding nine month period in 2011 to 16,700 metric tonnes in the equivalent period of 2012. The electricity generated from thermal sources during the first nine months of 2012 dropped by 22% from 1,943 million kWh to 1,512 million kWh. At the same time, electricity generated from hydro sources increased to 2,931 million kWh from 2,335 million kWh. During the period hydropower represented 52.5% of Kenya’s electricity output.

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) director-general, Kaburu Mwirichia told Business Daily of Kenya that the reduction in fuel consumption for electricity production means less pressure on foreign exchange and price relief to consumers. Mwirichia says all the dams in Kenya are currently full and considering it is less than three months to the next rainy season, consumers should expect more relief.

In 2011, Kenya experienced drought after the failure of the March to May rainfall, which reduced water in some of its major dams, affecting power supply. During that period KenGen turned to diesel generators to cover the shortfall.

The consumption of light diesel oil, which is mostly used in motor vehicles, increased from 1.03 million tonnes to 1.14 million tonnes over the first nine months of 2012. Kenya has seen an influx of motor cycles mostly used in rural and urban areas for transport.