The African Development Bank is in in talks with Kenya to part-fund the construction of a new coal plant, bank officials revealed this week.
Kenya has some of the most ambitious energy plans of sub-Saharan African country, and is aiming to bring electricity to 95% of the population by 2020.
The national electrification rate stood at just 20 percent in 2014, according to the IEA.
The new coal plant on the island of Lamu would add 1 gigawatt of baseload energy to Kenya’s national grid, providing round-the-clock power to a country that is desperate to industrialise.
To mitigate the environmental impact, it will employ the latest Chinese “supercritical” technology, which produces less CO2 per unit of energy.
Kenya’s government are pursuing a balanced energy mix, and have also sought to exploit the country’s abundant geothermal resources. Ministers accept however that renewables alone will not be able to supply power on the scale needed to develop the economy.
“Given that Kenya requires over 30 gigawatts to be an industrialised nation, we require all kinds of sources of power”, Energy Minister Charles Keter said in May.
The African Development Bank, which is helping to fund the project in partnership with the private sector, has taken a more pragmatic view on coal than western counterparts such as the World Bank.
“Africa must develop its energy sector with what it has,” AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina said. “Endowed with many different energy sources – both renewable and conventional – Africa needs a balanced energy mix.”
He added: “This must include renewable and conventional sources of power.”