Technical and economic feasibility of large scale concentrating solar power deployment in Kenya

Kiema, Kathy
The electricity generation portfolio in kenya has experienced some problems in the recent past due to the reliance on hydro power which in the event of poor hydrology has led to deployment of expensive diesel fired power plants. Energy planners have sought to diversify the sources utilized for power generation to mitigate risks related to over reliance on hydro and as a result the generation expansion plan for kenya as outlined in the least cost power development plan (lcpdp) is characterized by a significant drop in the share of renewables. It is specifically noted that solar power plants have been excluded from the list of potential generation sources, despite the abundance of solar resource in the country. In this research, concentrating solar power (csp) plants are investigated and proposed as a candidate technology that can be integrated into the current generation mix. Aside from an evaluation of the best potential sites, some performance parameters as well as a few economic indicators are investigated. Four configurations of csp plants are explored; solar power tower plant with storage, parabolic trough plant with storage, parabolic trough plant with fossil fuel back-up and parabolic trough plant with biomass back-up. Results obtained indicate that the power tower technology configuration has a higher annual energy output than the parabolic trough technology and the power tower plant at lodwar with storage is considered the most viable alternative in regard to location and minimal greenhouse gas emissions. In term of cost, specifically the levelized cost of electricity (lcoe), it is noted that csp plants could already be cheaper than diesel plants by approximately 2 $ ¢/kwh and any favorable taxation terms would be sure to spur interest from investors in development of csp plants. The parabolic trough with biomass back up is considered the second best alternative and achieves the lowest lcoe out of the four configurations at 18. 8 $ ¢/ kwh which is observed to be competitive to that of a coal fired plant with a lcoe of 17. 8 $ ¢/ kwh (assuming a discount rate of 12% for both plants. ) a key hindrance to the deployment of csp is the current feed in tariff which falls short of the most conservative estimates for lcoe rates and would need to be reviewed or an alternative power purchasing agreement arrangement would have to be instituted between the power producers and the distributor in order to make development possible. In general all four configurations are viable options to increase if not maintain the status quo in as far as the share of renewables in the electricity generation portfolio is concerned


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Citation Formats
K. Kiema, “Technical and economic feasibility of large scale concentrating solar power deployment in Kenya,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2017.