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Kenya Sectors

What is Kenyaʼs pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C?

Power sector in 2030

Kenya’s power mix already benefits from a high share of renewables of around 90%, including geothermal, hydro, wind, solar and bio-fuels and biomass for heating and household cooking.2,8 Renewable share is set to increase steadily to around 100% by 2030 through the NCCAP which anticipates an increase of over 80% from 2651 MW to 4821 MW by 2022 and rising to over 5000 MW by 2030.2,9,12 The proposed 100% renewable energy target by 2030 set by government is in line with our analysed Paris Agreement compatible pathways. Increasing a decarbonised and affordable electricity mix will be key to meet electricity demand on a sustainable path and reduce reliance on gas fuel for non-electric cooking as prioritised by the country.

Towards a fully decarbonised power sector

With an already significant share of renewables in its power mix, Kenya is well positioned to reach a fully decarbonised power system in the current decade from the current carbon intensity of 180 gCO₂/kWh in 2017.

While some of the cost effective models assessed showed negative emissions already happening in 2050 in the power sector, this is unlikely to happen in Kenya which has high potential to increase its land sink, thus relying more on renewables penetration in the power sector than other carbon dioxide removal (CDR) approaches.

Reaching a fully decarbonised power will require the decommissioning of the thermal plants as set out in the National Climate Change Action Plan and abandoning plans for coal and other fossil fuels that would jeopardise the likelihood for the country to align with a 1.5°C compatible pathway.4,11

The country has prioritised access to electricity and other non-electric cooking in its policies which include distribution of affordable gas cylinders through the Mwananchi gas project, to low-income households, development of off-grid solar through the KOSAP project, promotion of electric cooking and biogas uptake among other strategies.11,15 In 2019 Kenya adopted the Energy Act (2019) that sets out key provisions in the energy sector as envisioned by the 2018 Energy Policy and Vision 2030 (Third Medium Term – MTPIII) reiterating its vision of low-carbon energy development and universal access to sustainable energy for all by 2030.6,15,18

1 Climate Action Tracker. Kenya | Climate Action Tracker. (2020).

2 Government of Kenya. National Climate Change Action Plan (Kenya) 2018-2022 Volume 3: Mitigation Technical Analysis Report. (2018).

3 Ministry of Energy. Energy Matrix – Ministry of Energy. Ministry of Energy. (2020).

4 Geothermal Development Company. GDC| Geothermal Development Company. Our Story. (2021).

5 Ministry of Environment and Forestry. Kenya’s Updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). (2020).

6 Government of Kenya. Third Medium Term Plan: 2018-2022. (2018).

7 National Environmental Tribunal. Save Lamu & others v NEMA in the National Environmental Tribunal. National Environmental Tribunal. (2019).

8 Ministry of Energy & Clean Cooking Association of Kenya. Household Cooking Sector Study: Assessment of the Supply and Demand of Cooking Solutions at the Household Level. (2019).

9 World Bank & CIAT. Climate-Smart Agriculture in Kenya. CSA Country Profiles for Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean Series. (2015).

10 FAO & New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre. Options for Low-Emission Development in the Kenya Dairy Sector – Reducing enteric methane for food security and livelihoods. (2017).

11 Government of Kenya. National Climate Change Action Plan (Kenya) 2018-2022. (2018).

12 IEA. World Energy Balances 2020 Edition. (2020).

13 Republic of Kenya. Second Voluntary National Review on the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. (2020).

14 Clancy, J., Oparaocha, S. & Roehr, U. Gender equity and renewable energies. Thematic background paper. (2004).

15 Ministry of Energy. National Energy Policy. (2018).

16 Yatani, U. Emissions trading system central to environment goals. Business Daily. (2021).

17 Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. Kenya’s Nationally Determined Contribution. (2016).

18 Government of Kenya. The Energy Act, 2019. (Government Printer, 2019).

19 Government of Kenya. Green Economy Strategy and Implementation Plan-Kenya 2016-2030. (2016).

20 Government of Kenya. National Sustainable Waste Management Policy. (2021).

21 Government of Kenya. Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Strategy – 2017-2026. (2017).

22 Government of Kenya. National Strategy for Achieving and Maintaining Over 10% Tree Cover by 2022. (2019).

23 International Energy Agency. Access to electricity – SDG7: Data and Projections – Analysis – IEA. SDG7: Data and Projections. (2021).

24 Ngeno, G., Otieno, N., Troncoso, K. & Edwards, R. Opportunities for Transition to Clean Household Energy – Application of the Household Energy Assessment Rapid Tool: Kenya. (2018).

25 While global cost-effective pathways assessed by the IPCC Special Report 1.5°C provide useful guidance for an upper-limit of emissions trajectories for countries, they underestimate the feasible space for developed countries to reach net zero earlier. The current generation of models tend to depend strongly on land-use sinks outside of currently developed countries and include fossil fuel use well beyond the time at which these could be phased out, compared to what is understood from bottom-up approaches. The scientific teams which provide these global pathways constantly improve the technologies represented in their models – and novel CDR technologies are now being included in new studies focused on deep mitigation scenarios meeting the Paris Agreement. A wide assessment database of these new scenarios is not yet available; thus, we rely on available scenarios which focus particularly on BECCS as a net-negative emission technology. Accordingly, we do not yet consider land-sector emissions (LULUCF) and other CDR approaches which developed countries will need to implement in order to counterbalance their remaining emissions and reach net zero GHG are not considered here due to data availability.

26 %’s include stacking which is a common feature of household cooking in Kenya.

27 The ’s do not add up to 100 because of stacking where a large number of households use more than one type.

Kenyaʼs power mix

terawatt-hour per year

SSP1 Low CDR reliance
SSP1 High CDR reliance
Low energy demand
High energy demand - Low CDR reliance
  • Renewables incl. biomass
  • Unabated fossil
  • Nuclear and/or fossil with CCS
  • Negative emissions technologies via BECCS

Kenyaʼs power sector emissions and carbon intensity


  • Historical emissions
  • High energy demand - Low CDR reliance
  • SSP1 Low CDR reliance
  • SSP1 High CDR reliance
  • 100%RE
  • Low energy demand

1.5°C compatible power sector benchmarks

Carbon intensity, renewable generation share, and fossil fuel generation share from illustrative 1.5°C pathways for Kenya

Decarbonised power sector by
Carbon intensity of power
−50 to 0
Relative to reference year in %
−100 to −99%
−103 to −100%
−149 to −101%
Year of phase-out
Share of unabated coal
Share of unabated gas
Share of renewable energy
Share of unabated fossil fuel


Demand shifting towards the power sector

The 1.5°C compatible pathways analysed here tend to show a strong increase in power generation and installed capacities across time. This is because end-use sectors (such as transport, buildings or industry) are increasingly electrified under 1.5°C compatible pathways, shifting energy demand to the power sector. Globally, the “high energy demand” pathway entails a particularly high degree of renewable energy-based electrification across the various sectors, and sees a considerable increase in renewable energy capacities over time. See the power section for capacities deployment under the various models.

Kenyaʼs renewable electricity investments

Billion USD / yr


Yearly investment requirements in renewable energy

Across the set of 1.5°C pathways that we have analysed, annual investments in renewable energy excluding BECCS increase in Kenya to be on the order of USD 0.7 to 2.8 billion by 2030 and 0.6 to 4.5 billion by 2040 depending on the scenario considered. The ‘high energy demand, low CDR reliance’ pathway shows a particularly high increase in renewable capacity investments, which could be driven by an increase of electrification of end-use sectors, growing energy demand, and the expansion of electricity access. Other modelled pathways have relatively lower investments in renewables and rely to varying degrees on other technologies and measures such as energy efficiency and negative emissions technologies, of which the latter can require high up-front investments.