The persistent drought in Kenya is causing severe power shortages across the nation as around 74% of Kenya’s electricity is generated by hydro-electric power plants. The country has been experiencing low rainfall which has caused a dramatic drop in the water levels at many of the reservoirs that supply Kenya’s hydroelectric plants. The result is a serious decline in Kenya’s ability to generate sufficient power for its populace and its industries.
The effect on Kenya’s export industries has been catastrophic as much of the country’s exports are based on fresh produce. A lack of reliable power supplies creates havoc with irrigation and temperature controls in both green and cooling houses. Power is needed for pumping much needed water for post harvest handling and in cooling before grading. In fact, many of Kenya’s farms face closure if the power crisis is not ended.
In order to ease Kenya's severe and damaging electric power shortages, Kenya’s State owned utility, Kenya Electricity Generating Company Ltd (KenGen) has awarded a contract to the power generation leader Aggreko for the critical supply of 140 MWs of temporary power to support the country’s national grid, ensuring supplies of uninterrupted power for Kenya’s industries and its population.
A critical factor in the awarding of the contract is Aggreko's ability to supply the equipment and produce 40 MW of power within five weeks of the contract becoming effective. The remaining power systems would be delivered onsite a few weeks later. Aggreko is already supplying KenGen with 150 MW of temporary power and once the additional 140 MW generating capacity is installed, we will be able to deliver 290 MW of vital power into the national grid.
Temporary power plant hire is now a trend
There is a global trend emerging for the urgent need of temporary power plant solutions in developing countries who have invested heavily in hydro-electric power plants for their base-load capacity. This would seem a sensible move as once the hydro-power plant has been built and is operating, there are virtually no fuel costs so the power being generated is fed into the national grid at a low cost. However, recent years have seen low rainfall and drought affecting the levels in many hydro-power dams.
The reduced water levels in a dam’s reservoir reduces the power being generated, or in some extreme cases curtails power generation altogether which means that power utility must impose strict power rationing to spread its base-load available. Increasingly, the utility will then call upon Aggreko to supply a power plant in as short a time as possible to feed the much needed power into the national grid.
Growing Use of Power Plant Hire
With the environment and the rising costs of fuel, many governments are planning to increase the levels of ‘clean’ energy into their power generation mix. China is an excellent example of this developing trend as it is reported that China’s Central Government may lift its 2020 target for wind power by 50 percent to 150 GW which represents a 20 percent annual growth rate from 2009. Wind power capacity requires heavy investments into transmission and distribution grids to handle the intermittent power output from large wind farms that are located far from the demands for power in developed areas.
As with hydro-power’s dependence upon water, it is more than likely that during certain seasons, wind strength will not generate enough power for the grid’s needs as demand is rising. This critical scenario may well happen during a summer’s hot and humid months when the wind’s strength reduces significantly and air-conditioners and fans are being switched on. It is at moments like these when temporary power will offer a speedy and cost effective solution to the ‘no wind – no power’ problem.
Credit: Public Service Review: Central Government, Issue 20