Kenya’s innovative path to renewable energy leadership: A countdown to Cop28 and sustainable development

  • 30 Oct 2023
  • 2 Mins Read
  • 〜 by John Roy

With 32 days to go to the UN’s 2023 climate summit, COP28, Kenya is quickly gaining a reputation as a global leader in innovation and sustainability. As the world faces the dire challenges of climate change; access to clean, reliable and affordable energy is essential for environmental protection and human development. Kenya enjoys over 80% of renewable energy today, with ambitions of transitioning to 100% by 2030. How do we get there?

Energy experts need to get a bit more creative and innovative in harnessing the natural potential for geothermal, wind and solar energy. Renewable energy is increasingly becoming affordable and competitive for the electricity industry, as the costs of solar, wind and battery storage continue to decline. The following are factors that contribute to Kenya’s solar boom:

  • Kenya has the best conditions for solar energy generation globally. This is mainly attributed to abundant sunshine.
  • Kenya has increased its energy access and modernised payment systems. The government has been able to increase connectivity in both urban and rural areas thereby doubling its electrification rate. 
  • There is an improved financing mechanism from the government and funding from private sectors such as the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund. The Climate Investment Fund (CIF) has made investments in Kenya through the Scaling up Renewable Energy Program (SREP) and Clean Technology Fund (CTF). The CIF invested $60 million focused on de-risking geothermal power and $30 million to ramp up innovative instruments in renewable energy technologies. 

The simple truth is that overreliance on fossil fuels increases the emission of greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The GHG traps heat from the sun and causes the Earth’s temperature to rise. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a report earlier this year that warned that human-induced global warming of 1.1 degrees has already caused unprecedented changes in the Earth’s climate system. The report projects that an addition of 0.5 degrees will increase the likelihood of reaching dangerous tipping points that could accelerate global warming. 

Kenya is working on several initiatives to help achieve SDG 7 before the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change scheduled for 30th November to 12th December. Key highlights of these efforts include: 

  • The renewable energy portfolio: This includes the products and solutions that enable wind, solar and hydropower generation. Kenya has made ambitious intentions to achieve 100% renewable electricity. 
  • Energy efficiency milestones: When crucial bills are passed such as the Net Metering Regulations of 2022, we will be achieving our energy efficiency targets where customers will be able to adopt renewable energy and reduce their energy consumption. Energy efficiency and conservation make up one of the key pillars of sustainable development in Kenya. 
  • Focus on energy access: Kenya has adopted key energy access initiatives that aim to increase coverage of clean and affordable energy to underserved communities. Kenya has partnered with various organisations such as the World Bank to achieve universal access to clean energy and electricity. 

With COP 28 coming up, it is important to acknowledge the significance of climate financing directed towards renewable energy programs. KCB deserves a special mention as the first bank accredited by the Green Climate Fund to provide green financing to projects focused on climate mitigation and adaptation. Not only do renewable energy sources provide clean and affordable energy, but they also provide a good alternative to on-grid connectivity, especially in very remote areas.