Category Archives: renewable energy

France & Kenya and Renewable Energy

Yesterday there was forum on renewable energy in Nairobi. It was organized by the Embassy of France and the Kenya government to show executives from French energy companies opportunities to invest in renewables and other energy projects in Kenya and Africa. Aqylon, Engie, GreenYellow, Quadran,  Sogea Satom, Total , UrbaSolar, Vegrent, and Vinci representatives were part of the group.

French companies built hydro dams in Kenya

French companies built hydro dams in Kenya

Excerpts

  • Large silent corporations include Engie which produces 3 GW in Africa and Vinci which has EUR  800  million of revenue, and 14,000 staff in Africa.
  • SUNREF from AFD/KAM provides tailored finance for green energy to Kenyan companies through Bank of Africa,  CBA,  Diamond Trust and Cooperative Bank. 11 companies have now been financed, and some that have got SUNREF green energy finance include KTDA, Meru dairy, Strathmore University, and Redland Roses.
  • Kenya has 10 independe power producers (IPP’s) producing 650 MW (28%) of its electricity – shows how vibrant it is for investors.
  • Regional electricity sharing in future: Kenya produces 2,200 MW, Ethiopia 4,284 MW (90% from hydro), Tanzania 1,583 MW (65% from thermal), and Uganda 900 MW (80% from hydro)
  • GreenYellow works with factory, malls, hotels, to finance & build (heat/cold/solar/light) systems that reduce their energy costs by 30%
  • UrbaSolar is working with Kenyatta University on a 100% self-consumption plant that will reduce electricity bills by 80% (20% is night).
  • Total is constructing a 40 MW solar plant at Isiolo with Green Millenia, while Kenya’s rural electrification authority (REA) has got funding to do a 50 MW one near Garissa.
  • KenGen which provides 80% of Kenya’s electricity, has tendered for an Olkaria 5 plant, and will build an industrial park there.
  • There’s opportunity in Kenya off-grid & mini grid electricity, but there’s no legal framework for integrating with the national grid integration & projects sometimes face land acquisition or compensation delays.
  • Solar has not picked up in Kenya, but with drop of photovoltaic prices, there’s lots of interest here now – Energy Permanent Secretary J. Njoroge told the companies..  He also said renewable energy is intermittent – it can only be used up to a certain % of Kenya’s electricity grid supply. Later there was  mention of CSP solar plants which are more complex & expensive than traditional PV ones which but do give stable solar electricity.

Chase & AFD to Finance Renewable Energy in Kenya

This morning, Chase Bank and Agence Française de Développement (AFD) signed a 10 million Euro (~Kshs 1.12 billion), 12 year, credit line for onward lending to businesses that wish to invest in renewable energy projects.

Paul Njaga, the CEO of Chase said that, at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), the bank had committed Kshs 60 billion to SME funding, and that so far Kshs 20 billion had been disbursed. They had got $40 million from Proparco for SME’s and that the new funding will go to bankable projects in solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, biomass etc. that don’t degrade the environment, as well as as for energy efficiency measures.

The French Ambassador said their renewable energy project, which was launched in 2010, has been great success; To date, $37 million has been used for renewable energy projects that collectively generate 22 MW, and some of these included mini-hydro plants at KTDA tea estates, and the Strathmore University solar roof. He said France has invested 1.5 billion Euros in Kenya over the last ten years, including project through Proparco, their private sector investing subsidiary.

The Kenya Association of Manufactures (KAM) will assist the projects sponsors on feasibility studies and technical support and AFD hopes to sign five more banks in the renewable energy scheme and extend it to Tanzania and Uganda.

Conversion: 1 EUR = Kshs 111, 1 US$ = Kshs 102.

Kenya gets Coal Power

Amu Power is a consortium of Gulf Energy on the technical side and Centum Investments who will do the funding side aims to be the only locally owned independent power producer and will produce 960MW  via coal power at the Kenyan coast.

The plant will be designed and built Chinese partners, supported by the ICBC, the world largest bank, with partial guarantees of the African Development Bank and built to World Bank standards for coal plants. The total cost of the project will be $2 billion and about  Kshs 36 billion will be spent in 21 months of construction around Lamu i.e. about Kshs 1.8 billion in a county that has an annual budget of Kshs. 1.6 billion

The backers are trying to work with local community where there’s a local unemployment problem; they will need, train, and employ local certified welders plumbers, masons, brick layers etc. Amu is planning to lease land from the Kenya Ports Authority in Kwasasi on the main land (not on any of the Lamu islands) for their 100-acre plant that they will operate for 25 years. Coal plants are always set up next to large bodies of water, and they plan for excess of water they desalinate to be shared with the town people.

The Intention is to use coal from Kitui, Kenya once production there starts but plant  will be  built to use South African grades of coal that may be imported in the interim. The founders say  coal is necessary for industrial growth to a scale that hydro and renewable can’t match. South Africa is 94% powered by coal, the US 43%, China 81% and India 68%.

Financing Lake Turkana Wind

Monday this saw the signing of final agreements for the financing of the Lake Turkana Wind Power – LTWP project. This was the completion of a long, 9 year process that began with a fishing on trip on Lake Turkana, that yielded no fish, but a lot of wind on boat trip. 
The signing of finance deals worth 498 million euros (~ Kshs. 60 billion), will go towards LTWP which at Kshs. 75 billion is arguably both, the largest single wind power plant in Africa and, the largest single private investment in Kenya

The  Kenya Government has committed to raise the country’s electricity generation capacity to 5,538MW (from the current 1,533MW) by the year 2017. 630MW of that will be from wind, and they they have identified five strong wind areas in Ngong, Turkana, Kinangop, Kipeto and Isiolo – and hopes that using renewable sources of energy like wind will bring down the cost of electricity to consumers, and save on fuel import costs for the country.


The government’s KETRACO agency will build a 428 kilometer, 400 kV line, from Loyangalani to Suswa Suswa to Laisamis that they say will be ready in 24 months and which will also  link up with geothermal plants along the way. 
Image from LTWP website
The LTWP which will generate 300 MW, using 365 turbines in Laisamis (Marsabit) was registered in 2006, and brought one Aldwych International as an investment and development partner in 2009.
Financiers in LTWP include the African Development Bank (AfDB are the lead arrangers and who have provided a guarantee against some delays have also financed $1.7 billion in power generation in Africam with 39% iof that going to private sector companies) the European Investment Bank. Standard Bank (Stanbic), FMO, Nedbank, EADB, PTA, PKF, DEG, Proparco and soon OPIC (US)
Other partners in LTWP include Vestas (turbine supplier), the governments of Denmark (proving EUR 135 million including 120m in export credits), Netherlands, and Spain (who are financing the Laisamis- to Suswa transmission line).  
Next, the Kenya government wants to expand the number of last mile electricity connection while KETRACO also plan to extend the transmission lines to Northern and North Eastern Kenya – and on to Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda. This will serve the regional transmission purposes and also open up northern Kenya.
Joseph Njoroge,  the Energy principal secretary, said additional electricity opens up opporutunies such as enabling the pumping of crude oil, the Standard Gauge Railway is also planned to use electric trains, Iron Smelting, as well as clinker production (by Athi River and Dangote.

Urban Inflation Index: September 2011

One year after the euphoria of a new constitution, the direction of the economy is uncertain as seen in the weakening Kenya shilling, tangles in implementation of the constitution, and rising food prices. It has been a year of some price controls in the fuel, and possibly in the food sector whose parliamentary price control bill was signed into law last week by the President.

Comparing prices to six months ago and last year. On to the index

Gotten Cheaper: Nothing really.

About the same:

Communication: All Kenya’s mobile phone companies have call rates of about Kshs 3 shillings ($0.03) per minute to call across networks. It is unclear what will happen with call rates, as the smallest company in the market, Yu, launched free daytime phone calls, Airtel Kenya lost a CEO, and Safaricom has indicated that they may raise their call rates, as has happened in Uganda with MTN . The real battle is in data, where prices have not really dropped but companies are offering more speeds for less. The market here is divided between the companies with 3G (Orange & Safaricom) who compete on speed, and those without 3G(Airtel & Yu) who offer cheap internet rates of about Kshs 50 (~$0.5) per day for unlimited use.

Another communication developments that, in a way, lower the cost of business include the launch last week at G-Kenya of GKBO, which encompasses free website creation tool, domain registration, and site hosting for small companies by Google in Kenya.

Utilities: The bill on pre-paid electricity is still at about Kshs 2,000 ($21) per month, and getting about 30 – 35 units per buy via M-Pesa. However that is expected to go up after notice was issued for rates to go up 22% per kwh unit. So what alternatives are there? In a somewhat timely move, Samsung launched the NC215, a solar powered netbook laptop last week. It gives 1 hour of power for every 2 hours of charge in the sun, has a 15-hour battery life, and is able to charge other devices by USB even when it is off.

Also got a gift of a solar phone charger (T2126 Hemera from Hirsch) that works quite well; it takes about 12 hours to charge in the Sun or 2 hours via USB, has a flash light and can charge a variety of phone models.

But when you look at the rapid advances in laptop batteries and cell phone batteries over the lasts decade, you get the feeling that there has been a lag in the pace of solar devices, and that more solar based solutions and advances should be emphasized.

More Expensive

Fuel: A litre of petrol fuel, which is regulated by the Government, now costs 117.75 (~$5.6 per gallon) in Nairobi. Regulated fuel has proven to be more expensive than unregulated fuel, and while this can be attributed to the weaker shilling and fluctuating oil prices, the formula used to arrive at the price remains vague, and the limit on margins (stipulated buying and selling price of petrol, diesel, kerosene in each town) appears to have hurt small oil industry companies, more than large ones. However, among the listed companies, Kenol appears to have weathered the regulatory regime better than Total, by having diverse operations in other countries in East and Central Africa that remain unregulated.

Staple Food: Maize flour, which is used to make Ugali that is eaten by a majority of Kenyans daily. A 2kg bag which cost Kshs. 80 six months ago, and Kshs 65 a year ago, is now Kshs 119, the highest it has been in the short history of this index.

Other food item: Sugar : A 2 kg. Mumias pack which has hovered at about Kshs 200 for the last years, now costs Kshs. 385 (90% more than last year) and . The sugar sector has really gone full circle causing many to questions its relevance, recurring shortages shortage (why all factories close at the same month for maintenance), why sugar is grown in a food producing area and how many items we can consume without having to use sugar as a sweetener e.g. tea without sugar, or use of honey as a substitute.

Foreign Exchange: 1 US$ equals Kshs 95.6 compared (now 96.8) to Kshs 80.8 a year ago (and 83 in June 2011) – a loss of almost 20% in a year. It’s unclear of this has been a concern to the Central Bank which has made other confusing policy moves as related to interest rates at a time of mounting government debt and their laxity has enabled banks to spot and take advantage of an arbitrage opportunities to trade with government money.

Beer/Entertainment: A bottle of Tusker beer is Kshs 180 ($1.9) (at a local pub) a slight increase from compared to Kshs. 170 a year ago. However beer has become out of reach for many poorer Kenyan who have resorted to drinking unsafe local brews, which in some unfortunate cases have resulted in blindness or even death.