Can Kenya really sustain a clean energy market ?

Talk of the captive solar options, clean cooking solutions, electric vehicles and sustainable building practices-a wave of clean energy market is sweeping across Kenya

Going by the trends and unforgiving climate change effects, a clean energy revolution is coming fast. 

Corporate commitments are driving clean energy investments in the private sector. Time for a robust clean energy market is now; and so begs the big question, can the country sustain it?

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In Kenya, renewable energy makes up 70 percent of the country’s installed electric power capacity, with investment scaled up.

But can a country that is targeting 100 percent transition to green energy by 2022 to address the climate change challenge, sustain a clean energy market? Surprising as it may sound, experts think it is tenable, stating the energy demand growth is poised to propel the country into a lucrative clean energy market place.

Sustaining a clean energy market, experts continue, will demand an expansion on investment in renewables and related infrastructure.

John Kabuye, Vice-Chairperson, Kenya Green Building Society pegs clean energy market growth on innovative technologies.

Kabuye points out that disruptive technologies in clean energy space will accelerate access and increase uptake across the country. But lack of robust innovative models still hampers the implementation of energy-efficient technologies. And this is where the youth needs to play a vital role.

Interestingly, with an increase in population, the demand is set to grow exponentially. That high demand in clean energy due to population increase, Kabuye explains, will result in innovative youth and start-ups standing a better chance of rewriting the clean energy demand narrative.

“We are yet to exhaust the innovative solutions in green energy space. Clean energy growth gravy train is inevitable, hence the need for the youth to move with speed to be part of the change,” said Kabuye during a past clean energy conference and expo in Nairobi.

He stressed the need by the government to support clean energy innovators by lowering taxes on their merchandise to enable them to produce in bulk hence making them accessible to the majority at affordable prices.

Being a new market, innovators must also cultivate awareness creation among the poor who majorly needs to embrace clean energy initiatives. Most of the end-users of these technologies, do not decipher the relationship between global warming and deforestation hence the need to educate them before advocating for uptake.

Scaling up of the renewable energy industry to speed up clean energy market growth requires access to greater amounts of cheaper and more liquid capital. And as financing of clean energy projects remains a challenge to lenders, there is a need for the innovators to embrace partnerships in a bid to boost the country’s green growth agenda.

Another aspect that would spur growth in clean energy market is enhanced distribution channels and access to the technologies.  

Clean energy adoption in manufacturing, building, cooking and transport sectors is vital for combating climate change. Improving energy efficiency too, has the clearest impact on saving money, improving business results and fostering economic growth.

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More and more institutions, organizations and the private sector are putting up ambitious initiatives to push for a cleaner energy regime. The private sector, for example, are recognized as the key drivers in developing solutions to many of the challenges that societies are facing around greenhouse gas emissions.

Interestingly, energy project implementations have saved industries of more than Sh13 million in the last 10 years. That figure is poised to increase if the players in the clean energy value chain open up the market space.

Solar energy, for example, is a resource readily available throughout the country that the private sector can leverage on to sustain a clean energy market. The country has plenty solar energy the equivalent of 1 barrel of oil for each square meter. Already, there are institutions across the country that have taken the lead on this front among them; Strathmore University, Kenya School of Monetary Studies and ICIPE.

And the prospects are looking brighter for a clean energy market in Kenya. President Uhuru Kenyatta earlier on had challenged governments of industrialized countries, especially in Europe where sustainability has been embraced, to support such investments in green energy in Africa.

Apart from reversing the effects of climate change, he added, such initiatives would aid in delivering the jobs and opportunities that will strengthen security and stability on the continent.

The president further emphasized that Kenya is open for business in the manufacturing of green technologies and will work hard to enable investors in this field to thrive. In 2017 alone, 46 percent of electricity was generated from geothermal, 27 percent from hydroelectric and 24 percent from thermal sources.

Reducing energy cost ensures local products are more competitive paving way for the country as an investment hub. Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) has been involved in awareness creation and advocacy across all sectors of the economy and counties on the benefits of clean energy initiatives.

Elsewhere, developing and emerging nations are becoming leaders in renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives. “It is great to see these initiatives bearing fruit,” noted Gudka Sachen, KAM chairman. The state has laid bare its intentions in promoting clean energy environment through various policy document contained in the Energy Regulation Act, Energy Act. Both documents are advocating for cleaner energy initiatives.

Building environment too accounts for a large share of energy, estimated to be about 40 percent of global energy use. Sustainable building practices provide most important areas of intervention and provide opportunities to limit the environmental impact as well as contributing to the achievement of SDGs.Therefore, green building technologies are component in catalyzing a clean energy market.

Even as the government moves to implement affordable housing that forms part of the Big Four Agenda, experts note there is need to build appropriate structures that minimize the use of energy.

“Statistics from the Global Alliance for Building and Construction indicate that 80 percent of the buildings of the future are yet to be constructed. When finally built, they will need low-cost clean energy technologies and that is where we need young innovators thus we are advocating for clean energy buildings”

“There is a need to re-invent the way we build to consume few resources and foster environmentally friendly structures to create a ready market for clean energy,” said Kabuye.


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