National Parks or Energy: Kenya’s Dilemma

by Jessie Capper

According to a recent report released by the International Energy Agency’s ‘Africa Energy Outlook,’ unreliable power supply has been a persistent problem in African countries. The IEA claims that by addressing this uncertainty, African governments help increase investment in their respective country’s power sector, and ultimately boost their GDP by an estimated $15 (International Energy Association 2014). Kenya continues to address its problems with efficient, reliable, and high-cost energy through the pursuit of renewable energy sources—varying from solar and wind power, to hydropower, and geothermal energy. Although Kenya’s energy initiatives are progressive and admirable, there is rising concern over detrimental side effects, especially to the national parks. Continue reading

Kenyan Government Solves Energy Issues with Largest Wind Power Project in Africa

by Jessie Capper

Unreliable, inefficient, and expensive electricity is a continuous issue in third-world countries, especially Kenya. Kenya’s energy consumption increased by 9% between 2010 and 2011, and demand is expected to grow a further 12% by 2030 (Court Jan 29, 2015). This expanding demand for energy has presented numerous obstacles for the Kenyan government and Kenyan power companies. Many Kenyan communities face costly energy bills and recurring interruptions in power supplies; these widespread interruptions affected 75% of the country in 2014. In January 2015 alone, the Kenyan Power Company—the country’s main electricity transmission company—recorded roughly 9 energy interruptions for every 1,000 customer at the household level. As a result, the Kenya government is trying to reduce its dependence on hydropower—which provides 65% of the country’s electricity—due to Kenya’s unreliable rainfall patterns. As these trends persist, electricity and power companies, along with Kenyan government officials, are developing a reliable, cost-effective, and renewable energy source for Kenyan communities (Court Jan 29, 2015).

The country has commenced one of its most ambitious wind energy projects that is predicted to add 5,000 MW of power to the Kenyan energy grid. The 300MW Lake Turkana Wind Power Project is set to produce 20% of the country’s current electricity generating capacity once completed in 2016. The main goals of the Wind Power Project are to provide reliable, low-cost wind power to the national grid. It includes 365 wind turbines, each with a 52-meter blade span, and a capacity of 850 kW (Lake Turkana Wind Power).

Unfortunately, plans for past power plants to improve Kenya’s energy supply have failed due to a lack of bids from construction companies. The development of the Dongo Kundu and Liquid Natural Gas facility—which was set to generate 5,000MW of electricity—was halted due to its expensive construction cost of $1.44 billion (IPP Journal Sept 8, 2014). Although the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project is promising for the country’s energy supply, it is also a costly project amounting to $694 million—establishing the largest private investment in Kenyan history. However, the procurement process for the Lake Turkana Wind Project has already proven to be much more successful than the Dongo Kundu and Liquid Natural Gas project. An international collaboration among lenders and producers—including the African Development Bank and the British company Aldwych International and Standard Bank—have worked together to pay for and install the 365 wind turbines. Once developed and in operation, the ambitious Lake Turkana Wind Power Project will be the largest wind farm on the African continent and a hopefully replicable solution for other countries to follow.

Court, Alex. “Will Africa’s biggest wind power project transform Kenya’s growth?” CNN. January 29, 2015. Accessed February 18, 2015. http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/29/business/ltwp-kenya-windpower/

Lake Turkana Wind Power (http://www.ltwp.co.ke/the-project/overview)

“Kenya to re-tender 700 MW LNG facility.” IPPJournal. September 8, 2014. Accessed February 18, 2015. http://ippjournal.com/2014/09/kenya-to-re-tender-700-mw-lng-facility/

 

 

 

Exciting Collaboration for Efficient and Reliable Solar Tracking Technology for Commercial Businesses

by Jessie Capper

Solar tracking technology has proven to improve the performance of photovoltaic panels by 20 percent or more over fixed systems. Dual-axis tracking systems—moving along both a x and y axes—typically provide 8 to 10 percent more energy than single-axis systems. Although solar tracking technology improves performance of photovoltaic panels, there are concerns regarding the land requirements and high costs associated with this innovative technology (Renewable Energy World June 13, 2013). Trackers tend to be more expensive due to their moving parts; therefore, the motor needs to be professionally installed and properly maintained. Furthermore, tracking systems’ movement can cast shadows on neighboring panels; as a result, these systems require more land than fixed solar systems. Due to their advanced technology and demand for land space, solar tracking technology can be a costly investment. Continue reading

Making Solar Energy an Option for All Families

by Jessie Capper

The United States’ federal government offers an energy assistance plan to low-income families who would not otherwise be able to afford their utility bill. Although this program is largely beneficial to these communities, it is not advantageous for our current environmental conditions. Unfortunately, the energy assistance provided by the government does not provide the recipient the opportunity to choose the source of their energy; in other words, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program formed by the government only supplies energy from the local utility companies. These companies supply a majority of their energy from power plants, which account for roughly thirty-eight percent of the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions (Bloomberg Philanthropies). Fortunately, the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance is changing this, ultimately building a sustainable renewable energy program for families of any financial background (RREAL 1). Continue reading

The Three Secrets to Energy Efficiency

by Jessie Capper

 Many people know the three “R”s of sustainability: Reduce, Reuse, And Recycle. Although this is taught fairly early in one’s education, the current climate of our planet demonstrates that it is not engrained in, nor maintaining an influential impact on, people’s everyday decisions. OPOWER is a company committed to establishing a cloud-based platform that creates a stimulating, educating, and engaging experience to put consumers on a path towards energy efficiency (OPOWER). Although companies like Honeywell, Cisco, Google, and Microsoft are developing products and technology to detect energy usage in homes, these high-cost and high-tech solutions have proven ineffective. OPOWER has successfully expanded the use of energy efficiency alternatives using three fundamental approaches: behavioral science, analytics, and technology (Laskey and Kavazovic 2011). Continue reading