By Claire Nasike
Clean energy: The solution to minimizing greenhouse gas emissions
From the abundant sunshine, and high wind speeds experienced in the Northern regions, as well as the geothermal energy found in the Rift Valley, Kenya has a huge potential for generating clean energy to supply the 43% of its population without electricity by 2030.
According to the Energy Regulatory Commission, Kenya receives a daily insolation of 4-6kWh/m2 in the Northern East region in an average of 5-7 peak sunshine hours. Certain regions such as Marsabit, Turkana, Ngong and Coast enjoy high wind speeds ranging from 8 to 14 meters per second (m/s).
These areas have the potential to produce over 1,000 Megawatts (MW) wind power for sale to the national grid. Because of its topography, it also has an estimated geothermal potential in the Rift Valley, of between 7,000 Megawatts (MW) to 10,000 (Megawatts) MW spread over 14 prospective sites.
Clean sources of energy such as solar, wind and geothermal energy have zero carbon emissions thus making them environmentally friendly. They are also reliable power supplies, that create employment opportunities and can produce electricity to supplement power to the national grid.
Tapping into this clean energies, presents Kenya, an opportunity to generate and distribute the 23,000 Megawatts by 2030 as stipulated by the Ministry of energy and petroleum, as well providing electricity to the 43% of its population without access to electricity.
It will also help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels as a country thus minimizing the negative impacts of climate change.
According to the Global Carbon Project 2013, 390 billion approximate cumulative tonnes of carbon, were emitted into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels between 1870 and 2013.
The fossil fuel industry continues to dominate energy supply in most countries around the world. This is because major economies have evolved around them. However, this industry has had severe social and environmental impacts.
Combustion of fossil fuels such as coal releases carbon, which warms the atmosphere causing an increase in temperatures. This increase in temperature is likely to affect sectors such as agriculture and fisheries.
According to a special report, by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2014,carbon-dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes have contributed to about 78% of the total Greenhouse gas emission increase from 1970 to 2010, with similar percentage contribution for the period 2000–2010. Fossil fuel-related Carbon-dioxide emissions for energy purposes, increased consistently over the last 40 years reaching 69% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2010.They grew further by about 3% between 2010 and 2011 and by about 1–2% between 2011 and 2012.
Under, doubled carbon-dioxide, climate change is projected to adversely affect several physical,ecological/biological, and socio-economic characteristics of the West African coastal zone and adjacent oceans that are presently under stress. In Nigeria about 20 million people live along the coastal zone; about 4.5 million Senegalese live in the Dakar coastal area. These African nations have low-lying lagoonal coasts that are susceptible to erosion and hence are threatened by sea- level rise brought about by climate change. (IPCC,1996).
Majority of African economies, Kenya being one of them, are highly dependent on rain-fed agriculture. The increased temperatures as a result of climate change as well as the changes in precipitation will affect the rain dependent agriculture thus leading to food scarcity.
The Intergovernmental technical report on climate change and water,2008, concludes that despite the global increases in rainfall, many dry regions such as the Meditteranean and Southern Africa will suffer greatly from reduced rainfall and increased evaporation and as a result people in these dry regions may experience water scarcity.
To minimize the negative impacts of fossils fuels, in February this year, Kenya ratified the Paris Agreement, which means it is committed towards reducing its greenhouse emissions. It also built Africa’s largest wind power (Lake Turkana Wind power project), capable of producing 310 Megawatts of power.
The project, which is yet to be commissioned, had originally been due in 2011 but due to delays in securing funding, it started in 2014.It is for such reasons that developed countries need to contribute towards the Green Climate Fund, thus ensuring that developing countries can adopt clean energy technologies aimed at minimizing their greenhouse gas emissions.