Geothermal an increasingly important source of electricity for Kenya

Kenya Electricity Supply 2013-2017 (source: ThinkGeoEnergy, KNBS)
Alexander Richter 4 Dec 2018

With increasing electrification and ongoing issues with drought, hydro power is a less and less important source of electricity in Kenya, which puts an emphasis on geothermal energy.

We have been writing about the decreasing role of hydro power in Kenya due to the ongoing dry times, which has – now more than ever – put an emphasis on geothermal energy in the country. Today, it provides at times more than half of the electricity for the country (annual average is 45.9%), while representing nearly double of electricity generated by thermal and hydro individually.

In 2017, hydro generation of electricity registered a significant drop of 29.9% to 2,776.8 GWh mainly due to prolonged drought in 2017 according to the Economic Survey 2018 done by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), as reported by Soko Directory.

The total electricity generation in Kenya increased by 3.0 percent to 10,359.9 GWh in 2017 from 10,057.7 GWh in 2016.

Thermal generation increased significantly by 72.3 percent from 1,470.9 GWh in 2016 to 2,534.1 GWh in 2017. Electricity generation by wind and geothermal also increased by 8.7 and 6.1 percent, respectively, in the same review period.

The electricity access rate in the country stands at 73.42 percent as at the end of April 2018, owing to various national electrification projects that have been undertaken by the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC).


Geothermal generation accounted for the highest production of the total electricity produced in 2017 with a share of 45.9%.

In 2013, hydro generation accounted for the highest electricity production in the country with a 51.9% share. However, this production has continued to decline over the past years with geothermal generation taking over as the largest producer of electricity in 2017.


Kenya has been ranked first in Africa and ninth globally, in geothermal power generation capacity by the Renewable Global Status Report 2018. Geothermal is widely considered a preferable, low-cost renewable source of energy due to low emissions.

The government is making strides towards the production of clean and affordable energy by adopting the Geothermal generation of power. This is in line with the seventh Sustainable Development Goal which aims at ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

With ongoing development at Olkaria, Menengai and beyond, geothermal continues and will play an important role to not only secure sufficient electricity supply for further economic growth, but also driving down cost of electricity for households and businesses.

Source: Soko Directory