Kenya Power ramps up investment in grid expansion to support e-mobility
Kenya Power has assured investors in the electric mobility value chain that the grid network is robust enough to support the transition from fossil fuel-powered vehicles.
“The Company has consistently invested heavily towards the expansion of the grid’s capacity and its automation to accommodate the exponential growth in demand for electricity and to improve the flexibility of the grid and, in turn, the quality of power supply,” said Kenya Power’s interim Managing Director Eng. Geoffrey Muli.
He spoke Tuesday during the opening session of the Company’s inaugural E-mobility Conference which brought together more than 300 participants drawn from the private and public sectors to develop a roadmap for electric motorization in the country.
In the last five years, Kenya Power has invested more than Ksh.40 billion in grid expansion and refurbishment projects. Currently, the grid totals about 300,000 kilometres in circuit length of the high, medium, and low voltage networks which serve over 9.1 million customers, giving access to over 75 percent of the country’s population in all 47 counties.
Additionally, the country has an installed capacity of 3,321MW against a peak demand of 2,132MW.
During off peak, which happens late in the night, the demand drops to about 1,100MW. Over the last three years, approximately 90 percent of the electricity dispatched to the grid comprises clean energy generated through renewable sources such as hydro, geothermal, solar, and wind. This rises to 100 percent during most of the night off-peak time.
Charging electric vehicles especially at night would, therefore, help bridge the gap between off-peak load available generation capacity as well as raise the average demand to above 1,500MW, making e-mobility more environmentally friendly end to end.
To map out the needs of the e-mobility sector and define a framework to provide excellent service to all players involved, the Company has been actively engaged in e-mobility projects and initiatives with local and international partners.
“Through this office, we are working with investors and stakeholders to support the development of the e-mobility ecosystem, which entails the identification of sites for potential charging stations and developing requisite geo-mapping software to enable users to locate the nearest charging station,” said Eng. Muli.
Through its subsidiary, the Institute of Energy Studies and Research (IESR), the Company is currently undertaking a multi-stakeholder project supported by the European Union (EU) that is focused on modelling of the grid network, to analyse the impact of charging infrastructure on the national grid.
The data will be used to develop strategies for management of growth in electricity demand driven by Emobility. The project also aims to deploy 15 e-motorcycle charging and swapping points at existing petrol stations in Nairobi with the possibility of extending it in Kisumu.
The Company is in the process of hiring a consultant to guide the development of an E-mobility Network Infrastructure System (ENIS) to pilot the electric vehicle charging stations, both for company use and demonstration purposes.
During the current financial year, Kenya Power has set aside Ksh.40 million to purchase three electric vehicles and to construct three electric vehicle-charging stations within Nairobi. The Company plans to phase out its entire fleet of 2,000 fossil fuel-powered vehicles within the next 4 years through retrofitting electric engines on existing vehicles as well as the purchase of new electric vehicles.
In order to accelerate investments in E-mobility, the Company has submitted a proposal for an E-mobility tariff to the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA), which is currently undergoing public participation.
“The demand for electric-powered vehicles is expected to accelerate in the coming years with increased awareness of the benefits of e-mobility. We see this as an organic opportunity for us to support the country’s green agenda and to drive demand for electricity, especially at night to bridge the gap between off-peak load and available generation capacity,” said Eng. Muli.