Dry Spell Weakens Kenya’s Hydropower

Amid prolonged drought and rising electricity demands, Kenya is struggling to maintain its power supply. The Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) shut down a 14-megawatt hydropower dam after water levels fell below the minimum safety margins, Reuters reported Tuesday.

At the time of closure, the Masinga Dam level was one and half meters below the recommend minimum operating level. In the last two dry years, water levels have gradually sunk by almost 1,000 meters since May of 2007, KenGen said.

The biggest hydropower station on the Tana River, Masinga supports the Seven Forks dam system that generates about 47 percent of Kenya’s electricity needs. Its closure will hopefully free up water and increase the efficiency of the Kamburu Dam farther down river. This will cushion the effect of the power loss on the country’s overall power supply, KenGen added.

“The overall effect on power generation output will be minimal,” Richard Nderitu, KenGen’s acting managing director, said in a statement.

Although Masinga is expected to resume operation during Kenya’s “short” rainfall season in October-December, businesses and policy makers are struggling with the shaky power supply in the country. As Kenya’s economy — the biggest in east Africa — continues to grow along with the population, electrical demand is rising by about 8 percent annually.

Read more here, here and here.

Sources: Reuters, AllAfrica

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