Kenya’s electricity imports from Uganda grew by nearly a third in the year to July saddled by the shutdown of geothermal power grid for lines maintenance. Kenya imported 40.7 million kilowatt hours (kWh) from Uganda compared to 31 million units in the first seven months of last year – marking a 32 per cent growth, according to official data.
At 40.7 million units, Uganda accounted for 96 per cent of Kenya’s electricity imports that totalled 42.4 million units in the year to July. This is a departure from last year when East Africa’s largest economy cut by half electricity imports from Uganda following the injection of the additional 280 megawatts (MW) geothermal power to the national grid a year earlier.
Kenya has a direct transmission line connecting with Uganda via Tororo, enabling bulk power trade.
Last June, Kenya cut off a third (200 megawatts) of cheaper geothermal power from the national grid due to lines maintenance, creating room for increased uptake of alternative power sources, according to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).
The energy regulator said construction works at Suswa substation on the Maai Mahiu-Narok highway prompted Kenya to temporarily withdraw the geothermal energy. The supply shortfall was plugged by increased intake of a mix of imports, hydroelectric power and expensive diesel-fired electricity.
Geothermal accounts for the largest share of what Kenya consumes at about 47 per cent, followed by hydro-electric power (39 per cent), while thermal is 13 per cent.
The ERC data shows that electricity exports from Kenya to Uganda dropped six per cent to 23.7 million units in the review period, reversing a trend where the exports have been rising.
Besides Uganda, Kenya also imports power from Ethiopia to feed the neighbouring Moyale town, which is not linked to the national electricity grid. Kenya bought 1.68 million units of power from Ethiopia in the year to July, down from 1.7 million units in a similar period last year.
Source: The East African