In the wake of climate change, it may happily surprise you to recognize how many countries have started to make the switch over from dirty energy productions to harnessing and investing in clean renewables for the future. From developed nations to developing nations, little by little, more renewable energy resources are being brought to life, empowering global electricity grids with a sustainable outlook characterized by clean energy for the future. Many new project sites are for now small scale, but are confidently predicted to one day catch on to mainstream energy productions around the world.
Already within the first month of 2011, Kenya, Africa has shown their commitment to renewable energies with a new wave power energy plant. The Ministry of Energy approved a 100 MW power generation station off the coast of Kenya in the Indian Ocean. The country will be equipped with patented wave power-to-energy technology from the Tel Aviv, Israel-based SDE Energy Limited Company. The installation of the power plant will be carried out in cooperation with local Kenyan energy company Sea Wave Gen. The plant will produce electricity from waves at a production cost of $0.02 per 1 KW. After the energy is produced, it will be bought by a local electric company- the Kenyan Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) - at a cost of $0.08 per 1 KW.
How waves produce energy works
Sea wave energy production is an innovative technology with great potential for coastal nations to provide energy for their people. This harvesting technology is not to be confused with tidal power, as I have previously written about in an earlier blog post. Tidal power is generated in direct relation to the ebb and flow of the various tides throughout the day. Wave power is alternatively generated from the power of waves on the ocean surface. Harvesting this renewable energy resource is a completely sustainable practice. And the best part is that it is completely fuel free meaning it doesn't emit any greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere as it generates the power.
Waves are the product of wind coming into contact with the surface of the ocean water. The marine powered facility will generate electricity from the motion of waves as they come into contact with SDE’s buoy technology. These buoys can either be floating or connected to land surfaces. The force from the waves coming into contact with this technology generates hydraulic pressure which is then turned into electricity and connected into the energy grid, ready to supply households and businesses with energy.
Energy production depends on the state of the ocean. Factors of energy production include: the technology, the ocean surface area, ocean depth, as well as the consistency and velocity of the wind as a factor of wave sizes. According to the company’s Managing Director Mr. Shmuel Ovadia, “The system harnesses wave’s speed, height, depth, rise and fall and the flow beneath to produce energy. The model has been approved by experienced engineers.”
Energy in Kenya today
Currently 70% of Kenya’s energy comes from hydro-electric power generated from dams. Kenya however is prone to droughts, thus hindering the stability of energy production for the country.
The African Executive explained the current energy situation in an article about the Nairobi summit of 2008:
“Kenya is currently struggling with a serious energy crisis precipitated by the spiraling price of petroleum which has pushed up transport and food costs, fuelling inflation. The country's over-reliance on hydro-electric power whose capacity has severely been reduced due to adverse climatic conditions and failure to invest in alternative sources of energy is not only undermining the performance of the Kenyan economy, but also making vision 2030 a myth.”
Vision 2030 is an economic development plan by the Kenyan government with the intent of producing annual economic growth rates of 10%. The country is recognizing the need for clean energy goals to be met at the same time as uplifting their economic status. Kenya hopes to produce approximately 1300 MW of their total energy supply with renewable energy in years to come. There is not yet a specified target date for this to happen by.
Click here to read “The Kenya Vision 2030 and the Environment: issues and challenges”
Click here to read more about the current Kenyan energy ‘climate’ from the Nairobi Summit
How ocean waves will improve the energy grid and clean up the air for Kenyans
There are a few reasons why wave power is important for Kenyan’s and the rest of the world. The country has experienced pollution and extreme power shortages as cities have expanded and populations have grown. Kenya’s energy sector in the past has been described as imperfect. However, as the world moves forward into a time when clean energy is making its debut, harvesting the power of the coastline to produce energy seems like an ideal solution to improve the health of Kenyans and relieve the atmosphere of any additional GHG emissions. It will clean up the air without damaging industrial and financial growth in Kenya. Due to the electricity shortages, both of these sectors have had restricted growth possibilities. To the Ministry of Energy and all those in support for the success of clean energy power plants, this cost-efficient technology is a celebrated accomplishment and solution to meet energy needs and expand the economy without imposing further threat to climate change. This single plant is a humble start to an exciting adventure for the continent as it ventures into the next generation of energy production.
More on SDE and the world at large
This is the 9th energy project SDE has brought to life and a first for Eastern Africa. The other countries SDE has empowered with this clean energy technology are: India, Israel and China.