At an estimated 2.9 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per person per year, Africa is definitely within the lesser contributors to global warming and climate change.
Notwithstanding, with many of Africa's countries' economies dependent on agriculture, tourism and on riparian, coastal, and other marine zones, all of which are climate-sensitive, the effects of climate change are bound to have a devastating effect on the continet's socio-economic survival.
Kenya, for example, may have little historical or current responsibility for global climate change in addition to the fact that its emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) is insignificant relative to the global average, but as the country develops towards middle income status, the country's emissions of GHGs will increase significantly. It is currently estimated that Kenya's emissions will double by 2030, with the dominant sources coming from the transport and agriculture sectors.
The country’s current national power grid, fore example, serves just over 18% of the country’s population, with the remaining approximately thirty million using diesel, kerosene, firewood, charcoal and dry cell batteries.
Over and above the anticipated economic gains from the development of clean energy sources, concern for environmental preservation gives development of geothermal and nuclear energy sources special importance to Kenya as a developing economy.
With a potential of between 7,000MW and 10,000MW, Kenya’s capacity for geothermal electricity, which, unlike other renewable sources of energy including hydropower, wind, and solar, is not dependent on the weather, is enormous. Olkaria in the rift valley alone, is estimated to have a potential of over 1,000MW, with the current installed capacity being approximately 210MW only, while Menengai sites have potential for 560MW. Three other capacity development sites in Olkaria are expected to deliver 240MW in Olkaria I and Olkaria IV, and 50MW in Olkaria III by 2014.
Currently, geothermal sources account for only 15% of Kenya’s power generation mix, and it is projected that at last 45% of the country’s power output by the year 2018 will be geothermal. By the year 2018, it is projected that hydropower will contribute 28% and geothermal 18%.
Leading geothermal electricity producers include America, which produces 2,544MW of geothermal power, The Philipines, 1,931MW, Indonesia, 799MW and Italy 790MW.
In addition, Kenya is also pursuing nuclear energy prospects, with the construction of a nuclear power plant expected to start in 2018 at a cost of Ksh. 366 billion (USD 4.3B), and which it is estimated will produce up to 1,000MW after it is commissioned in 2022.
Through a public-private partnership deal with Africa Geothermal International Kenya (AGIL), Kenya intends to increase its geothermal capacity by over 140MW by the year 2018.
Wind energy is also relatively underexploited despite the country’s several sites, already identified, surveyed and confirmed to be commercially viable investment opportunities.