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Renewable Energy | SANREM

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Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Africa
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Renewable Energy

Background to the Programme

Commercial energy is dominated by petroleum and electricity which are the prime movers of the modern sector of the economy. Wood fuel provides energy needs of the traditional sector including rural communities and the majority of urban households. In addition, industry (e.g. food processing, agro-processing and cement) and institutions are also switching from petroleum based fuels or coal to using wood fuel for heating applications.

At the national level, wood fuel and other biomass account for about 68% of the total primary energy consumption, followed by petroleum at 22%, electricity at 9% and others including coal at less than 1%.

Kenya’s electricity generating capacity as at June 2011 was 1,593MW. This is expected to grow to 15,000MW by 2030. The current installed capacity is made up of Hydro 48%, Thermal (fossil fuel) 38%, Geothermal 12%, Cogeneration (baggasse) 2% and Wind 0.3%. Hydro generation dominates the electricity supply mix but is highly vulnerable to weather conditions and climate change. The system expansion plan over the 20 year plan period indicates that 26% of the total installed capacity will be obtained from geothermal, 19% from Nuclear Plants, 13% from coal plants and 9% from imports. Wind and Hydro plants will provide 9% and 5% respectively while Medium Speed Diesel and Gas Turbines plants will provide 9% and 11% of the total capacity respectively.

Renewable energy is high up the priority list in Kenya for a number of reasons:

  • Thermal based generation currently accounts for 37.5% of the total electricity consumed. Looking at Kenya’s electricity generation capacity from 1999-2011, the greatest increase to date has been the thermal electricity generation capacity, a trend that is set to continue following the reduced reliability of the hydro plants. Even in the optimistic Least Cost Power Development Plan 2011-2031, the percentage of thermal based generation will only drop to 21% in 2020.
  • National household electrification rates stand at an average of 22%; 5% in rural areas and 50% in urban areas. 87% of un-electrified rural households rely mainly on kerosene (tin lamps and lanterns) while about 2% use solar PV for lighting. The medium term government target is to provide electricity to all public facilities (trading centers, schools, polytechnics, health centers, community water works and administrative offices); household electrification is currently not prioritized.
  • Biomass is still the main source of energy and the current levels of unsustainable harvesting of biomass resources and their inefficient use cannot continue for much longer without serious environmental consequences.


Kenya is endowed with significant amounts of renewable energy resources such as wind, solar, geothermal, small hydro and biomass. The Ministry of Energy has made an effort to assess wind and small-hydro potential in the country. However, comprehensive assessment, mapping and appraisal of all the renewable energy resources in the country have not been done to determine their technical and economic viability.

Nevertheless, in the expectation of rising fossil fuel costs, improvements in technology and reductions in technology costs, it is appropriate for Kenya to position itself so that it can capitalize on the potential opportunities in renewable energy production.



SANREM works to increase access to clean and affordable energy for the increasingly growing rural populations, providing sustained partnership to individuals, NGOs and renewable energy entrepreneurs in combating energy poverty, climate change and environmental protection.

SANREM also solicits and provides start up green grants for sustainable renewable energy (RE) initiatives in Kenya. Approved RE technologies must demonstrate perceivable evidence of reduced carbon emissions into the atmosphere, significantly improve child and mother survival, increase availability of refrigerated essential drugs and vaccines for emergency services, airtricity services to promote economic entrepreneurship, computer and access to internet and IT services and ensure increased school enrollment and girl child participation in educational and developmental activities. SANREM is already raising funds for wind-solar power projects targeting seven major business satellites to directly benefit 120,000 people, 200 primary schools, 100 health dispensaries, 60 solar powered watering points and 100 green trees projects, all in the first five years, funds permitting.

We work toward increasing access to modern energy services for cooking, lighting, communication and productive uses for poor households in Eastern Africa.

We aim to promote access to equitable modern energy services across the region where poor women and men make informed choices to access appropriate and affordable energy technologies and services. We promote viable and efficient energy technologies with a focus on renewable household energies and decentralized energy systems.

Despite the availability of technical solutions, 1.3 billion people are still without any form of electricity and 3 billion people still cook over open fires.

SANREM provides practical power: renewable, locally-sourced, sustainable energy solutions which lift people out of poverty.

SANREM is committed to Total Energy Access, because we know from our work on the ground that renewable energy sources are a powerful solution to poverty.


SANREM’S Objectives ion renewable energy

  • Increased awareness levels and adoption of renewable energy technologies
  • Increase in the number of qualified renewable energy practitioners and increase in skill level and improvement in the quality of products and services provided
  • Pro-renewable energy policies and regulations and improved business environment for renewable energy
  • Increased coordination between actors and stakeholders when developing and implementing renewable energy initiatives
  • Diverse membership and increased collaboration/cooperation between members and partners dealing with renewable energy


SANREM’s Core Activities

  • Promoting and creating awareness on renewable energy as well as providing information on renewable energy markets, market actors and technologies
  • Supporting training, capacity building and certification activities in the renewable energy field and accreditation of renewable energy product and service providers
  • Research for purposes of informing advocacy and lobbying activities and to collect information on renewable energy products and markets
  • Pro-renewable energy lobbying and advocacy to improve the business environment and encourage adoption
  • Networking, Business Linkages and Coordination, to facilitate and encourage synergies between various activities e.g. programs, projects and/or initiatives in the renewable energy field
  • Promoting renewable energy, including, among others, solar and use of agricultural residues for energy.
  • Improving and promoting energy efficiency. Large-scale dissemination of clean, fuel-saving cook stoves and other clean cooking methods.
  • Improving forest management and protection
  • SANREM will work closely with and Support NGOs, CBOs, youth groups, grassroots women groups, schools, private companies/enterprises and religious institutions that are involved in climate Justice Activities such as Planting Trees, Forest Protection, and Biodiversity; conservation initiatives in their bid to respond to the global call to counter climatic changes.
  • SANREM will promote the production and promotion of green energy technologies at small domestic levels as a way of educating and encouraging utilization of solar cookers, Solar water Heating, Certified Carbon reducing cooking stoves and Bio fuels to reduce emissions and indoor air pollutions;
  • Conduct KAP surveys on energy needs, use and efficiency periodically with a view to initiating a feasible data base for demand led intervention;


SANREM’s Sources of Renewable Energy

  • Micro-hydro power

Micro-hydro power is the small-scale harnessing of energy from falling water, such as steep mountain rivers. Using this renewable, indigenous, non-polluting resource, micro-hydro plants can generate power for homes, hospitals, schools and workshops.
SANREM promotes small-scale hydro schemes that generate up to 500 kilowatts of power. The micro-hydro power station, which converts the energy of flowing water into electricity, provides poor communities in rural areas with an affordable, easy to maintain and long-term solution to their energy needs.

We have developed micro-hydro systems with communities in Kenya. These systems, which are designed to operate for a minimum of 20 years, are usually ‘run-of-the-river’ systems.


  • Solar

Kenya is quickly waking up to the realization that it can successfully tap into one of the vast natural resources on the planet – the sun. Solar energy has for a long time remained largely untapped in Kenya due to a combination of factors with the single biggest obstacle being the hugely expensive solar kits. But with the Kenyan government desperately looking for new avenues through which it can turn Kenya’s energy greener, this year it lowered the importation taxes levied on solar energy kits so as to encourage corporations and individuals to use solar to power domestic and industrial operations.

SANREM Is geared towards empowering women in rural areas through the provision of renewable power, easing domestic chores, especially when night falls and helping village women come up with income generating activities. The village women have also started income generating activities that include a posho mill that is powered by solar energy to generate some income for the women groups and a small workshop where local youth can gain skills and eke out a living while supporting the village solar program as well. SANREM is also planning to use solar energy to power most of its digital villages spread in remote parts of the country under the Green Solar Power initiative.


  • Biogas-Poop power: cow dung can be used as fuel

With fuel wood becoming increasingly expensive and also scarce in some areas, there is a need to look for alternative cooking fuel. Cow manure and biogas fuel technology provides a free, sustainable source of power all year round – and a useful fertilizer which helps to provide a better income for farmers. SANREM has established 18 biogas units following the training of 12 masons from different regions. Plans are underway for establishment and usage of 80 biogas units.


  • Energy saving stoves

24 new energy saving stoves have also been established in various households within the project areas in order to minimize the demand for wood fuel. Plans are underway to establish 120 conservation stoves.


  • Fireless Cooker

The practical fireless cooker is helping families in Kenya to escape the vicious cycle of poverty that is perpetuated by the sheer struggle to survive.

By making families less dependent on fuel, they no longer have to make the heartbreaking choice between sending their children to school and short-term survival, or going to work and collecting wood.


  • Small-scale Wind Power

Families living in rural areas who do not have access to the national grid may have to travel long distances and wait long times for their batteries to be recharged at commercial centers.

SANREM has developed reliable and cost effective wind energy systems for charging batteries to help meet the electrical energy needs of these people. Small scale wind energy generators also have the potential to stimulate village-level charging enterprises for either community or private use. Therefore SANREM aims to develop and promote local industries capable of manufacturing and maintaining the generators.

Converting wind energy into electricity is clean, renewable and sustainable – the wind supply will never run out!


Capacity Building

SANREM’s role is enhancing the capacity of key institutions—government ministries, rural energy agencies (REAs), power utilities, regulators and power pool operators—are essential to successful energy access scale-up. The communities and the general publics are made aware of the link between their energy consumption patterns and that these patterns affect the climate change threat. There is still a great need for long term renewable energy training programmes designed to develop a critical mass of locally trained manpower with the requisite technical, economical and socio-cultural skills needed to increase use of new alternative renewable energies.


SANREM’s Partners

Ministry of Energy – Responsible for formulation and articulation of energy policies through which it provides an enabling environment for all stakeholders. Its tasks include national energy planning, training of manpower and mobilization of financial resources.

Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) – Responsible for economic and technical regulation of electric power, renewable energy, and downstream petroleum sub-sectors. Its functions also include tariff setting, review, licensing, enforcement, dispute settlement and approval of power purchase and network service contracts.

Energy Tribunal – A quasi-judicial body set up to hear appeals against the decisions of ERC. It also has jurisdiction to hear and determine all matters referred to it relating to the energy sector.

The Kenya Power Limited – A State Corporation with 50.1% government shareholding and 49.9% private shareholding. It purchases electrical energy in bulk and carries out transmission, distribution, supply and retail of electric power.

Kenya Electricity Generating Company Limited – A State Corporation with 70% government shareholding 70% and 30% private shareholding. It is responsible for electric power generation and produces the bulk of electricity consumed in the country. The company utilizes various sources to generate electricity ranging from hydro, geothermal, thermal to wind.

Rural Electrification Authority – Established with the principal mandate of extending electricity supply to rural areas, managing the rural electrification fund, mobilizing resources for rural electrification and promoting the development and use of renewable energy.

Geothermal Development Company Limited – A state-owned company established by the as a Special Purpose Vehicle for the development of geothermal resources in Kenya.

Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Limited – A state-owned company established to be responsible for the development of the national transmission grid network and for facilitating regional power trade through its transmission network.

Independent Power Producers – Private companies which generate power and sell electricity in bulk to Kenya Power. As at 2011, they accounted for about 26% of the country’s installed capacity.