Kenya has signed an agreement with the US engineering giant General Electric to supply its flagship energy project with the latest “ultra-supercritical” clean coal technology.
The proposed 1050MW coal plant at Lamu on the eastern coast would provide Kenya with 30 percent of its power. It is regarded by the government as central to its plans to achieve middle-income country status by the 2030s.
Ultra-supercritical technology is cleaner than traditional coal systems as it operates at much higher rates of efficiency, meaning less coal burnt and fewer emissions.
Kenya has been pursuing a highly pragmatic “all of the above” approach to power generation, including solar, geothermal, hydro and fossil fuels. This has made it one of Africa’s success stories on energy access, boosting the number of people with an electricity connection from just 27 percent in 2013 to 55 percent in 2016. The Lamu coal plant is intended to help Kenya achieve its ambitious goal of 95 percent access by 2020.
The project has the backing of the African Development Bank, which unlike Western development agencies like the World Bank, has argued that African countries should use all the resources at their disposal to bring desperately needed power to their people.
It will also be welcome news in the White House, which is keen to encourage the export of US energy technology to developing nations as part of its strategy of “energy dominance.”
Speaking at Kenya’s Ministry of Energy this week, Francis Njogbu, Managing Director of the project said:
“This is truly a historic moment for Kenya and the East African region as a whole. We are confident that this partnership forged today will go a long way to position Kenya as an Industrial hub in the continent. Kenya has been looking for ways to enhance its generation mix to provide the most efficient, least-cost and reliable power in a sustainable manner; and the technology offered by GE gives us a unique opportunity to achieve this ambition.”