US Legislators add voice to Kenya’s Anti-coal Campaign - could this be the last straw?

Press release - June 11, 2018

The letter by  four US senators to the AfDB advising against the financing of the proposed Lamu coal plant couldn’t come at a better time. After years of campaigns against the expansion of coal power in Kenya, the matter is just now getting the attention it deserves.

The world is now not only looking at the lives that will be affected by the pollution caused by the proposed coal plant but how it would be counterproductive to Kenya's climate goals and would set back the progress in building a sustainable energy system.

It is a great move by these senators to add weight to the voices of the activities that have been campaigning against the coal plant. Though the government of Kenya has still maintained its position to continue with construction, this letter directed to African Development Bank could be the last saving grace for our country.

The Kenyan government, through the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), has instructed the proponents of the proposed coal project to downsize its initial capacity by half. This is meant  to avoid ending up with more energy than needed that will force consumers to pay for idle plants.

Nevertheless, according to the ERC, the country’s peak demand is currently at about 1,770 MW against the country’s total installed capacity of 2,336MW. This implies that the country already has a reserve margin of 566MW. Therefore, plans to proceed with the proposed coal fired power plant will translate into an unnecessary burden on consumers who will pay a fixed charge of KSH 37 Billion per year irrespective of whether it generates power or not.

For years, Kenya has managed to supply energy through other renewable means and can maintain the same. Greenpeace agrees that the need to increase electricity supply in Kenya should motivate the AfDB among others to consider financing projects that are renewable at a low cost.  

Both international and local investors have expressed interest of setting up over 4,000MW of renewable energy projects such as solar and wind power in Kenya, nearly double the country’s current total capacity.

The Kenyan government, therefore, has a moral responsibility to support such alternative investments which are environmental friendly. If the proposed coal plant proceeds to be constructed, there will be an estimated carbon emission of 8.8 megatonnes of carbon (iv) oxide into the atmosphere annually. This will contravene Kenya’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions under the Paris Climate Accord.