[Column] Sachen Gudka: Achieving Kenya's Big 4 Agenda on clean energy
In line with the Paris Agreement’s aim to strengthen global response to climate change, industry as a significant stakeholder in the planet’s future, must take a lead in effecting and normalizing clean energy use.
From the first industrial revolution in the 1800’s, we have seen each period of transformation bring with it smarter and leaner ways to achieve more, in terms of quality and productivity. Industry 4.0 is a game-changer and requires each one of us to intertwine our economic goals to our environmental contribution.
A report by the Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2018 states that the world has invested US$2.9 trillion in green energy sources since 2004, and adds that 12.1% of total global power in 2017 came from clean sources.
Presently, Countries such as Sweden, Finland and Denmark are leading in clean energy innovations from recycling, to the development of electric motors and the development of progressive policies that support decarbonization of energy systems by 2050. Nordic Energy Research has estimated that over one-third of the region’s energy supply comes from renewable sources with biomass and waste being used to generate electricity, heat and transport fuels.
In essence, to achieve an effective clean energy mix, we need the right policies, a focused-investment plan – to support new technology installation and good will from the Government.
It is interesting to note that, corporate renewable energy sourcing has moved beyond the US and Europe to countries such as China, Japan, Ghana, Namibia and Egypt.
This is where Kenya’s opportunity lies. We have in place, a stepping stone to help us take advantage of this shift, which is our geothermal power project. Kenya is globally recognized as a trailblazer in geothermal power know-how, and all eyes are trained on our ambitious wind-power project.
As a country, we have a Green Economy Strategy and Implementation Plan that provides the framework to transition to a green economy, by promoting sustainable infrastructure and guiding natural resources management. Why then do we find ourselves restricted to geothermal when we have biomass, wind and solar power?
First, the capital needed to set up renewable projects is high, particularly for small and medium enterprises. Without a conducive business environment that promotes green financing including clear roadmaps that bridge high-level national targets and technical details on capacity building, we cannot attain a green economy.
The government has shown a keenness towards this by setting up a framework for issuing a green bond in 2018/2019 – this will only be sustained if supported by cohesive and progressive policies.
Secondly, access to technical support on renewable energy and energy efficiency is lacking. This includes assistance offered to investors to identify investment opportunities in green energies; the development of eligible, innovative and profitable green projects for private sector and, for banks, the know-how to analyze the bankability of projects.
There are current local efforts to bridge these gaps, for instance, Kenya Association of Manufacturers’ partnership with Agence Française de Développement (AFD) to provide financial solutions to green energy initiatives.
That is, it enables companies to acquire better quality equipment, insulate buildings and adhere to global standards in their operations, by providing concessional debt financing and free technical assistance. However, in order for Kenya to fully take advantage of the shift on corporate renewable energy sourcing to the continent, more is required.
Last year, Denmark generated 43% of electricity from wind power, setting a world record for driving a wind-powered economy. We too can achieve our Big 4 economic plan on a clean energy-driven economy. We only need to be deliberate and take action now.