Hydro Generation to Go Up as Dams Fill Up
May 25 2015…Generation from the cheaper hydro sources is set to go up in the coming weeks following significant rise in water levels at the main power dams.
The dams at the main generating dams at the seven forks hydro-electric power and at the Turkwel power dam have been rising in recent weeks while inflows at the Sondu and Sangoro stations are good, according to energy planners at the public power generating company, KenGen.
KenGen CEO Eng. Albert Mugo says favorable weather will raise contribution from the hydro power stations going forward.
“From the daily reservoir reports, the inflows have been very good. The main Masinga dam has risen over four meters since May 1 2015. Average output from hydro has also increased from around 8.6GWh to over 10 GWh per day.”, says Eng. Mugo.
“We will step up hydro generation in the months ahead but ensure we conserve available water to last until the short rains later in the year ,” says the CEO.
Forecasts by the Meteorological Services also show that current high rainfall at the major catchment areas are set to significantly improve the water levels by the end of the long rains season .
“The Tana River, Turkwel and Sondu Miriu catchment areas are expected to experience near normal rainfall with a tendency to above normal during the current season”, says Met in their latest update.
“It is, therefore, expected that the level of water in the Seven Forks and other hydroelectric power generation dams will gradually improve during the season”, added officials.
As of last evening, levels at the Masinga Power dam stood at 1,052.8 meters above sea level (masl), having gained four metres over levels recorded at the beginning of May. At the end of April, the dam level stood at 1047.6 masl. At the Masinga dam and indeed the entire seven folks cascade, maximum generation is attained when the water reaches full supply level at 1,056.5 masl, beyond which the dams will attain their spilling points.
At the Turkwel power dam, water levels there stand at 1,123.9 masl, against spilling points at 1,150 masl.
By stepping up hydro generation, KenGen is ensuring stability and predictability of power bills as this will compliment contribution of the dominant geothermal but whose full benefits have been realized by consumers.
Geothermal has for the sixth month in a row been the dominant source of electric energy contributing an average of 300 kilowatt hours (kWh) compared to 260 kWh from hydro sources. This followed the injection of 280 megawatts (MW) to the national grid in December last year coupled with a prolonged dry spell spanning five months which relegated hydro to second place as a source of electricity.
“Kenya is now relying heavily on geothermal with the entire capacity of the 280MW coming on stream from December last year. The impact of geothermal is positive in stabilizing our revenues,” says the CEO.
During normal hydrology, hydro dams account for 52.04% of total national mix, The total installed hydro capacity is at 820MW, but daily output is pegged at 797MW. However, geothermal operates at a higher load factor (output) almost 100 % compared with hydro’s which is solely dependent on the weather.
A combination of the two sources will yield a healthy generation mix from the two cheapest sources of electricity. Hydro sources can also be used for peaking in place of the highly priced thermal sources, thereby ushering an era of stability and predictability on the power bills. The improved hydrology is a double blessing for KenGen in regard to stability of revenues as well as a low cost back up to electricity customers who can rest assured of fairly stable power.
KenGen is also investing heavily in complementary and cheaper sustainable sources such as the pioneering well head condensing technology and wind farms to meet rising demand. The firm which has recently expanded the Ngong’ wind power plant to 25MW capacity is also gearing up for the 100MW Meru wind project. In the meantime, KenGen is finalizing plans for development of up to 350MW in additional new geothermal projects to further consolidate the 80% market strength.
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