Is there hope in our energy plans?

Is there hope in our energy plans?

Yes, there is! There is a myriad of energy source options for Kenya to choose from. We have coal, hydroelectric power, crude oil, wind energy, solar energy, nuclear energy … I mean the world is our oyster!

But do we really have hope in these sources of energy? Hope for a powered future? A clean and ration-free energy future? With bright bulbs, powered engines, rainbows and fairy tales?

Half of USA’s electricity is from coal. Yes, half of the 9.8 million km2 expanse, that is full of liberal Americans each boldly powering their dreams, gets its energy from coal. And guess what, we have coal right here in Kenya; rich coal seams waiting for us to snuff them up.

Wait, what was that? Carbon dioxide emissions? Well, with half of the carbon dioxide released during the processing of coal in the US coming from its coal plants, I am pretty sure they are working on plans for CO2 capture. They only need just about Ksh. 30 billion. (US$ 300 million) to capture 2% of carbon emissions from the plant. So, 100% would be what, Ksh. 1.5 trillion? For clean coal energy? I am sure we can raise that to keep our East African air clean, right World Bank?

Okay. What about crude oil? I mean the world still has oil reservoirs and highly producing oil fields like the Gulf of Mexico. Plus, we too are part of the charade with four large basins of oil promise soaked in over 750 million barrels of oil. Whoever said there are only 4 trillion barrels of oil left in the world is such a sadist, right?

Fine. Forget crude oil. Let’s talk about other options out there like compressed natural gas (CNG). Clean shiny fuel, whose emissions are only a bit of CO2 and H2O. And guess what? It’s even cheaper than diesel. You just compress natural gas to less than 1% of its original volume using a Ksh. 12.5 million compressor and out comes CNG. Simple! Don’t worry. With the rate at which Kenyans are buying cars, I am sure we can set up CNG stations with just one compressor per station and with huge fleets of cars per compressor we will lower our costs of gas compression per car and ….

Okay. Okay. How about LNG? Liquid Natural Gas. The East is already doing it. They just cool natural gas to -163°C at between Ksh. 2 – 200 (US$ 0.25 – 2) per Btu ( 1 British thermal unit can be equated to heat produced by burning one match stick), and then transport it using special tanks.

Who said we need oil or gas to power our transport needs anyway. Tesla has provided us with clean electric cars; at only Ksh. 11 million, give or take! You want to tell me with our growing economy and seeding banks we wouldn’t be able to get loans for such sustainable vehicles using such an available energy source? Yes, electricity is available. We have hydroelectric power plants and dams all over the place (Just wait for it to rain and you will see what enough dam water levels can do). Meteorological department, any good news yet?

We haven’t even tried biofuels by the way. You know, processing corn or sorghum stalks and leaves to cellulose to produce ethanol; another amazing energy source. Patience is all we need. We finish feeding our people and then get our act together and plant maize to produce energy! If these rains would just come through!

Ah! Nuclear energy. We’ve already even trained our very own people in this field. I hear it’s just Ksh. 580 billion (US$ 5.6 b) to set up a nuclear reactor that would produce up to 1GW of energy. 1GW of energy! France has been a great example, going all nuclear. They even recycle their waste! Something we totally need!

Look. The challenges surrounding the energy issues in the world are scary. Having clean, efficient, cost-effective solutions is not a walk in the park. Yap! I know you are thinking “But we are doing geothermal now and seriously considering large scale solar and wind energy production”. But these too have their ups and downs and face the weight of growing energy demands.

What am I getting at? Last December, I was fortunate enough to attend the African Energy Technical Conference that was held in Nairobi, Kenya and watched the documentary ‘The Switch’ narrated by Scott Tinker. I like the way he discusses all these energy facts and alternatives (a lot of which I have borrowed for this piece by the – thank you Scott), trying to assess how possible the sustainability of our energy plans is for the near future. He tries to estimate what it takes for us to meet the global energy demand within our near future (you should make an effort to watch that movie). And in this analysis, it all boils down to one essential thing – Being self-efficient! Switching off that extra bulb; monitoring our energy usage; saving on our energy costs. We all need to be a bit more responsible to make this plan work.

So, is there really hope in our energy plans? There could be and if we chip in and make an energy efficient choice, we might just have a shot at providing a remarkable future for generations to come.

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Post author

Karen is a post grad student at the University of Nairobi pursuing a degree in Geophysics. She is a content creator for FunKe Science and contributes regularly for RocKeSci. She is a full on nerd and used to have a cute pet rock called Dave. We don't know where Dave is right now, help us find it guys. #FindDave

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