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Kenya: Remote city to receive clean power by 2016

Wind farm image
Remote city in Kenya relies on power and an isolated microgrid for power

In East Africa, power and automation technology group, ABB, has been awarded a contract to supply and install a PowerStore flywheel-based microgrid stabilisation solution. The agreement was granted by Socabelec East Africa for the Marsabit wind farm in northern Kenya.

According to the technology group, Kenya plans to add an additional 5,000MW of generation capacity to the grid within the next five years. The added capacity is expected to expand power access to the country’s estimated 50 million people by 2020.

Claudio Facchin, President of ABB’s Power Systems division, said: “Sustainable development of Africa and fostering microgrid solutions are both key focus areas in ABB’s Next Level strategy and dedicated 1,000 day programmes have been constituted for them.”

Kenya remote off-grid communities

The city of Marsabit has no access to the national electricity grid but rather relies on an isolated microgrid, which requires a reliable power supply fuelled by readily available and affordable clean power resources such as wind.

Currently, the small city with a population of 5,000 depends on diesel generators and two 275kW wind turbines.

ABB’s containerised 500kW PowerStore stabilisation system will be integrated into the existing power network and will interface with existing diesel power station controls, the power and automation company said in a statement.

The power project is expected to reach completion in 2016.

According to ABB: “The flywheel-based system can inject or absorb power up to its nominal rating, and helps to integrate intermittent renewable energy into a grid, so customers can operate their hybrid plants in an optimal way.

“These rugged, proven systems are today successfully at work, often in harsh and remote environments, in locations around the world.”

Kenya renewable power

Kenya has been active in the renewable power sector recently. In August, Kenya Power and Kipeto Power Limited signed a power purchase agreement for the development of a 100MW wind power project in Oldonyo, Narok near Kiserian, Kajiado County.

Cabinet Secretary for Energy and Petroleum, Henry Rotich, said: “The power purchase agreement is an important step forward in enabling the country meet its development goals utilising renewable power that is cost effective and environmentally friendly.”

According to Rotich, renewable energy (hydro and geothermal) in the country currently accounts for over  85% of Kenya’s energy mix.

Rotich added that wind power forms part of the country’s plans to diversify the 5,000MW of additional generation capacity.

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.