According to the popular online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, Kenya has the world’s highest household solar ownership rate with roughly 30,000 small (20–100 watt) solar power systems sold per year.
This is no mean achievement for a country that is normally behind in maximising use of such innovations.
But this is simply no time to celebrate. Kenya is staring at a looming power shortage as the hydro-electricity sources once again fail to meet demand because of prolonged drought.
The government needs to do more in harnessing renewable energy which involve natural phenomena such as sunlight, wind, tides and geothermal heat which are naturally replenished.
The move will see Kenya stop an over reliance to hydro generated power and diesel especially at a time when the country’s demand is almost overtaking supply.
To promote the new trend, the government should immediately take a cue from countries that have implemented incentives — like government tax subsidies, rebates over purchase of renewables — to encourage consumers to shift to renewable energy sources.
They should also think of issuing government grants on research in renewable technology to make the production cheaper and generation more efficient.
Development of loan programs to entice Kenyans to purchase renewable technology is also a tactic that has been used in India with much success. The solar loan programme in India has seen millions finance solar power systems and this can easily be replicated in Kenya.
Carbon taxes should be introduced and the revenue earned channeled towards renewable energy development.
The government should make more research investments to find better cost efficient technologies, Kenya has the potential to revolutionise this industry. The majority of renewable energy technologies are powered by the sun which is abundant in Kenya especially in ASAL areas. Wind that is abundant in several locations in Kenya can be harnessed to power.
Biogas can easily be produced from current waste streams, such as paper production, sugar production, sewage, animal waste and so forth.
The government should not wait for a power or petroleum crisis to promote the vast renewable energy available in the country that remains largely untapped.
Kenyans should not be made to suffer from electricity rationing and higher bills as the country opts for expensive diesel engines and unreliable hydro power.
The National Task Force on Accelerated Development of Green Energy has its job cut out.