Grid digitization can combat Kenya’s power sector challenges
30-08-2018 06:57:00 | by: Nixon Kanali | hits: 2530 | Tags:

Kenya’s power sector presents promising opportunities for grid digitization. This is according to a 2018 white paper on the “Digitization of Energy Transmission & Distribution in Africa by General Electric.

The white paper released yesterday explores the opportunities and challenges faced in Sub-Saharan Africa as the new future of energy and electrification emerges. It looks at the role of smart technology and how it can be used to transform grids as they continue to reflect the changes in the way energy is generated, distributed and stored.

The white paper notes that the sector can benefit from smart grid solutions such as digital microgrids, automated control systems, demand response and demand side management among others.

Following the release of Kenya’s Development master plan “Kenya Vision 2030” there has been a big drive to diversify its energy mix. However, Kenya’s power sector faces challenges, which present unique opportunities for digitization

Co-authored by the Strategic Marketing unit of GE Power in Sub-Saharan Africa and Energy & Environment Research Analysts of Frost and Sullivan, the white paper by GE Power’s Grid Solutions business presents several challenges that affect energy access and power supply stability in Africa.

They include inadequate power generation but more significantly, low levels of electrification caused primarily by faulty, aged or wrong setup of transmission and distribution infrastructure. With the digital transformation of the energy sector rapidly gaining traction on a global scale, new opportunities are emerging to help deliver efficient, affordable and reliable electricity to consumers.

According to the white paper, smart grids can create the potential to combat SSA’s power sector challenges. This will, in the end, provide the opportunity for the region to develop its energy capabilities and, therefore its energy security as well as the security of supply. The digital transformation of grids allows users to take a holistic approach to achieve efficiency, flexibility, transparency and long-term sustainability.

The paper further notes that Information Communication Technology Integration will support real-time or deferred bi-directional data transmission.  This will enable stakeholders to efficiently manage the grid through increased speed and volume of data output, providing utilities the opportunity to maximize cost reductions, increase power reliability and increase customer satisfaction.  Wide Area Monitoring and Control will also ensure visibility into the power systems to observe the performance of grid components allowing for major cost-saving benefits associated with predictive maintenance and self-diagnosis.

Smart technology like Intelligent Electronic Devices (IEDs), Advanced metering infrastructure and grid automation will also ensure seamless transition and integration of renewable generation or micro-grids where necessary; predictive maintenance in distributed grids to reduce outages; and effective revenue management.

“Transmission and distribution networks are seen to be the weakest links in Africa’s power systems and hence represent a huge opportunity area for improvement," said Lazarus Angbazo, CEO, GE Power’s Grid Solutions business, Sub Saharan Africa.

“Going forward, there is a need to move beyond simply maintaining and repairing aged infrastructure. To truly advance the power sector, a holistic approach needs to be adopted; one that ensures sustainability, reliability, and longevity of power supply. The smarter grids of tomorrow will deliver all-encompassing solutions based on the convergence of operating technology (OT) with information technology (IT) and incorporating emerging concepts such as distributed generation and energy storage," he added.