Uganda taps Kenya to bridge power shortfall

Thursday, August 18th, 2022 05:00 | By
How Kenya will benefit from geothermal deals
Geothermal energy. Photo/Courtesy

Uganda plans to import power from Kenya to bridge its supply gap and avert possible power rationing after its key power plant temporarily shut down due to flooding last week.

Uganda’s Ministry of Energy revealed to Daily Monitor that the arrangement will allow Kenya export 60MW to address the current emergency, giving room for utilisation of Kenya’s excess power. Kenya’s generating capacity currently stands at 2990MW.

“We had to gather around so that we do not suffer a big load shedding and you would be experiencing this because of what happened,” said Uganda’s energy minister Ruth Nankabirwa.

The power evacuation plan is pegged on a bilateral power trade deal between the two countries where Uganda is expected to compensate Kenya once it restores collapsed state-owned 183MW Isimba Dam.

Increasing power

Kenya and Uganda rely on each other for extra power during emergencies and shortfalls mainly through the high voltage Lessos-Tororo transmission line.

The expected Kenya-Uganda power deal comes at a time when KenGen plans to elevate Masinga hydroelectric dam’s spillway by an additional 1.5 metres to boost power generation capacity and help cut flooding during rainy seasons.

“KenGen is working on raising the height of Masinga dam spillway by an additional 1.5 metres. This will not only help to store more water for energy generation but further reduce the effects of excess water downstream during heavy rains,”  KenGen stated in an update.

 Kenya has also been increasing its power production through mixed supplies from from Lake Turkana Wind Power and several geothermal plants operated by KenGen.

Outgoing president Uhuru Kenyatta last month commissioned KenGen’s two geothermal power plants with a total of 258 megawatts (MW) power capacity aimed at strengthening Kenya’s electricity security.  

Kenya will also turn to sourcing cheaper power of about 600MW from Ethiopia Electric Power (EEP) in a 27-year power deal to phase out expensive thermal power. Despite the huge generating power capacity, the amount of Kenya’s available power capacity is alarming if viewed from a demand perspective.

Peak demand, which is the maximum power consumed during the busiest point for the grid, hit a historic high of 2117.24 MW as of 26th July 2022, nearly outstripping the currently available 2200MW power capacity. This was partly caused by economic recovery.

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