In this part of our series Co-benefits Stories, Beverly Abwonji explains how renewables improve the quality of life for people in Kenya. For this series, we have asked energy professionals that have participated in our trainings for their thoughts and experiences on co-benefits of renewable energy in their country.
Whilst I believe that all the co-benefits around climate change mitigation will increase the chances of renewable energy projects in Kenya, the most pressing transformation will revolve around the social and political aspects. When access to energy and increased food and water security is ensured, then facilities that directly serve a community are able to function better which includes enhanced health and education in the different regions.
By installing a mini solar grid in my community in the Rift Valley, Subukia, we included participation and education and created an additional power supply for surrounding farmers who benefited from an affordable solution for pumping water and powering their homes which previously relied on kerosene lamps and firewood for lighting. This alleviates poverty and inequalities that arise from a lack of energy access and the despondence of the ever-increasing effects of climate change by cutting down trees for bio-fuel use. There are favourable conditions to stimulate technological change. Kenya has an emerging economy with a major youth population which is eager to improve their economic status and advocate for a sustainable future. By creating opportunities for employment and learning, there is a massive opportunity to increase the capacity of the renewable energy transition in Kenya and achieve self-sufficiency with the growing demands of the country. Kenya’s renewable energy capacity is at 60% with the majority being produced by hydro-power. The potential to combine with renewable technologies in the mobility sector, agriculture systems and other infrastructure will additionally improve the democratic quality of governance and economic performance.
Based on insights of the COBENEFITS research group, the Renewables Academy (RENAC) currently conducts trainings in Turkey, Kenya, South Africa and Mexico. Participants learn about co-benefits of renewable energy in climate change mitigation, tools to quantify and communicate social and economic opportunities and policies and instruments to mobilise them.