Finnish Firm Eyes Thermal Stations For Cheaper Gas-fired Power

Finnish energy giant Wartsila is seeking to convert Kenya’s expensive thermal power plants to gas-fired power stations aimed at cutting electricity tariffs by half.

A KenGen power station at Kipevu. PHOTO | FILE

A KenGen power station at Kipevu. PHOTO | FILE

The company wants to make thermal power investors switch to cheaper natural gas with the government’s support that would push down tariffs for diesel-generated electricity from Sh20 per kilowatt hour (kWh) to below Sh10.

“We’ve been having talks to convert diesel generators to gas-fired plants which is a cost-effective route to take in cutting prices without sidelining thermal plants,” said Wartsila Eastern Africa business development manager George Oywer in an interview.

The Finnish firm is behind the construction of a majority of thermal plants in the country on behalf of independent power producers (IPPs) and State-owned power producer KenGen.

They include Triumph in Athi River, Iberafrica in Nairobi South, Kipevu in Mombasa and Rabai, all adding up to 352 megawatts or 15 per cent of Kenya’s total energy capacity.

He said that Kenya could source the gas from Qatar and enjoy similar low prices like in neighbouring gas-rich Tanzania whose policy currently bars gas exports.

In Tanzania, electricity from gas-fired power plants done by Wartsila costs about Sh7 per unit, three times Kenya’s cost for thermal power (Sh20).

The company has done conversion in Bangladesh and India.

– Business Daily