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Renewable energy in Kenya: Resource potential and status of exploitation


  • Kiplagat, J.K.
  • Wang, R.Z.
  • Li, T.X.


This paper presents an assessment of renewable energy resource potential and the current status of exploitation in Kenya. As an importer of petroleum fuels, Kenya spends a substantial amount of foreign reserves to import oil. The oil import bill in 2008 consumed 55% of the country's foreign exchange earnings from exports. On the other hand, there is a high dependence on wood biomass energy, leading to an imbalance in its supply and demand. This has exerted considerable pressure on the remaining forest and vegetation stocks, thereby accelerating the processes of land degradation. Moreover, despite the abundance of potential and a strong growth in demand for electricity, the country faces constraints in satisfying electricity demand. At the national level, only 18% of the households have access to grid electricity. The access is much lower in rural areas where only 4% of the households have grid electricity. Kenya has a liberalized energy sector and has made significant progress in the recent past in formulation of renewable energy policies. What is more, Kenya's electricity power mix is among the most sustainable in the world, with 80% of electricity coming from renewable sources. However, a substantial proportion of renewable energy resources are unexploited. Of the potential renewable sources, Kenya has harnessed only about 30% of its hydropower sources, approximately 4% of the potential geothermal resources and much smaller proportions of proven wind and solar power potentials. Furthermore, a large potential exists for the development of biomass based energy such as biogas, biodiesel and power generation form baggasse. The strong growth in energy demand provides excellent opportunities for private investors to invest in renewable energy power generation.

Suggested Citation

  • Kiplagat, J.K. & Wang, R.Z. & Li, T.X., 2011. "Renewable energy in Kenya: Resource potential and status of exploitation," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 15(6), pages 2960-2973, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:rensus:v:15:y:2011:i:6:p:2960-2973

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jacobson, Arne & Kammen, Daniel M., 2007. "Engineering, institutions, and the public interest: Evaluating product quality in the Kenyan solar photovoltaics industry," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(5), pages 2960-2968, May.
    2. Acker, Richard H & Kammen, Daniel M, 1996. "The quiet (energy) revolution : Analysing the dissemination of photovoltaic power systems in Kenya," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 81-111, January.
    3. van der Plas, Robert J & Hankins, Mark, 1998. "Solar electricity in Africa: a reality," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 295-305, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Opiyo, Nicholas, 2016. "A survey informed PV-based cost-effective electrification options for rural sub-Saharan Africa," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 1-11.
    2. Tebibel, Hammou & Labed, Sifeddine, 2013. "Performance results and analysis of self-regulated PV system in Algerian Sahara," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 691-700.
    3. Arevalo, Javier, 2016. "Improving woodfuel governance in Burkina Faso: The experts׳ assessment," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 1398-1408.
    4. Ramli, Makbul A.M. & Twaha, Ssennoga, 2015. "Analysis of renewable energy feed-in tariffs in selected regions of the globe: Lessons for Saudi Arabia," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 649-661.
    5. Sovacool, Benjamin K. & Kryman, Matthew & Smith, Taylor, 2015. "Scaling and commercializing mobile biogas systems in Kenya: A qualitative pilot study," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 115-125.
    6. Murage, Maureen Wanjiku & Anderson, C. Lindsay, 2014. "Contribution of pumped hydro storage to integration of wind power in Kenya: An optimal control approach," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 698-707.
    7. Pottmaier, D. & Melo, C.R. & Sartor, M.N. & Kuester, S. & Amadio, T.M. & Fernandes, C.A.H. & Marinha, D. & Alarcon, O.E., 2013. "The Brazilian energy matrix: From a materials science and engineering perspective," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 19(C), pages 678-691.
    8. Mohammed, Y.S. & Mustafa, M.W. & Bashir, N. & Mokhtar, A.S., 2013. "Renewable energy resources for distributed power generation in Nigeria: A review of the potential," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 22(C), pages 257-268.
    9. Wagner, Beatrice & Hauer, Christoph & Schoder, Angelika & Habersack, Helmut, 2015. "A review of hydropower in Austria: Past, present and future development," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 304-314.
    10. Manzano-Agugliaro, F. & Alcayde, A. & Montoya, F.G. & Zapata-Sierra, A. & Gil, C., 2013. "Scientific production of renewable energies worldwide: An overview," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 18(C), pages 134-143.
    11. Abubakar Mas’ud, Abdullahi & Wirba, Asan Vernyuy & Muhammad-Sukki, Firdaus & Albarracín, Ricardo & Abu-Bakar, Siti Hawa & Munir, Abu Bakar & Bani, Nurul Aini, 2016. "A review on the recent progress made on solar photovoltaic in selected countries of sub-Saharan Africa," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 441-452.
    12. Suberu, Mohammed Yekini & Mustafa, Mohd Wazir & Bashir, Nouruddeen & Muhamad, Nor Asiah & Mokhtar, Ahmad Safawi, 2013. "Power sector renewable energy integration for expanding access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 630-642.
    13. repec:eee:rensus:v:82:y:2018:i:p3:p:2029-2038 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. repec:eee:renene:v:121:y:2018:i:c:p:368-376 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Ghaem Sigarchian, Sara & Paleta, Rita & Malmquist, Anders & Pina, André, 2015. "Feasibility study of using a biogas engine as backup in a decentralized hybrid (PV/wind/battery) power generation system – Case study Kenya," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 90(P2), pages 1830-1841.
    16. repec:eee:renene:v:116:y:2018:i:pa:p:88-96 is not listed on IDEAS


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