“People and Power: Stories of Small Scale Renewable Energy Entrepreneurs in Kenya” documents 11 renewable energy projects to highlight how decentralised renewable energy is empowering people across the country, and especially in rural areas which rely heavily on biomass energy sources due to the lack of grid connections. The 11 case studies of renewable energy success stories spread across the country and provide insights on how communities, civil society and specific individuals have used decentralized renewable energy to energize and empower their lives, the struggles they have faced and the lessons they can share. It further interrogates how successful uptake of decentralized renewable energy has provided social empowerment to the people and improved the livelihoods of the said communities.
Even though the number of people with access to electricity in Kenya has risen continuously in the recent past, power supply is still not reliable for many Kenyans. Only about 30% of the population has access to electricity. In rural areas, especially in the sparsely populated Northern part of Kenya, less than 5% of the households are connected to the grid. Power outages are common due to excess demand and inadequate transmission and distribution technologies. Meanwhile, the vast majority of Kenya’s overall energy consumption (about 68%) is still covered by biomass, which is primarily used for cooking. In rural areas, more than 90% of the households are using this form of primary energy. Thus, especially given Kenya’s abundant renewable energy sources, the potential to scale up renewable energy technologies is high.
There is a huge potential for green technologies in Kenya and such technologies are increasingly becoming competitive thanks to innovation and economies of scale. The trend is that renewable forms of energy have the potential to phase out the more polluting conventional sources of energy like fossil fuels. By doing so, the use of renewable energy can potentially bridge the energy supply gap in the country, support electrification of the remote rural areas not connected to the national grid and help meet the climate change mitigation targets. Moreover, it can also reduce dependence on hydroelectric supply which is highly vulnerable to water scarcity induced by climate change. The use of renewable energy sources can also play a key role in strengthening climate change adaptation opportunities for the rural poor through the provision of energy services for irrigation and refrigeration and diversification of rural economies through other productive uses of energy. Good examples are highlighted in this publication.
Hbs will continue to engage like-minded organisations to find sustainable solutions to energy, and to engage both private and policy-makers to address barriers slowing down or holding back the uptake of renewable energy in Kenya.