KenGen Issues Dam Safety Update, Power Needs & Production

The surge in rainfall, as predicted by the Kenya Meteorological Department, has continuously caused disruptions and havoc, leading to the loss of lives and property, with a clear fear of possible dam overflows or bursting, which could render the situation most severe. KenGen CEO, Eng. Peter Njenga, has assured the safety of the Seven Forks dams, despite the highest levels of water ever recorded.

“The Seven Forks dams hold the bulk of the water flowing from the River Tana, way more than half the volume, which would otherwise flood areas downstream of the dams, thereby reducing the damage caused by the ongoing rains,” said KenGen’s Managing Director and CEO, Eng. Peter Njenga.

This assurance comes after the government directed the relocation of persons living close to riparian lands, riverbanks, and dams, as well as scrutiny of dams to ensure citizens’ safety despite the continued rainfall. Water levels are expected to remain high for most parts of May 2024, as the ongoing rains persist, as forecasted by the Kenya Meteorological Department.

KenGen’s Managing Director and CEO, Eng. Peter Njenga, has asserted the safety of citizens in a Masinga Dam update by the company, stating that the dams are strongly built with all the safety features to withstand the high pressures of water, and the risk of the dams bursting their banks.

In the update, it’s revealed that the water level in Kenya’s largest hydropower-generating dam, Masinga, located in the Seven Forks Cascade, this morning was at 1,058.22 meters above sea level, against a full supply level of 1,056.50 meters. This season has seen Masinga rise to the highest level ever recorded in history, surpassing the previous record of 1,058.13 last recorded in May 2020.

This upsurge has been attributed to a significant increase in the amount of water currently flowing into the dams, averaging more than 850m3 per second over the last week, caused by heavy rainfall in the dams’ catchment area.

KenGen reiterates that all its large hydropower dams in the Seven Forks have reached full supply capacity and now hold a combined volume of more than 2.6 billion cubic meters against a total flow from River Tana estimated at five (5) billion cubic meters. Other dams in the Seven Forks Cascade are Kamburu, Gitaru, Kindaruma, and Kiambere.

Embrace of Proactive Actions

Over the years, the dams have helped regulate river flows and mitigate flooding downstream by temporarily storing the flood volume and allowing the water to flow downstream later through the power plants naturally.

This has been achieved through a robust water management plan for regulating storage and power generation to ensure a healthy ecosystem and less flooding during heavy rains.

KenGen
KenGen CEO, Eng. Peter Njenga

Eng. Njenga reveals that KenGen predicted in November 2023 that Masinga Dam was likely to reach its full capacity and overflow in April 2024, which has come to pass, hence attributing the early warning measures of alerting residents near the dam as having been crucial.

KenGen is said to have issued an early warning to communities living near the dams and rivers to relocate and move to higher grounds to avoid loss of lives and property.

“We thank those who took our warning seriously and moved to safer zones and urge those still residing near the dams and River Tana to heed the Government’s call and move to safer grounds,” said Eng. Njenga, adding, “The communities residing in Mbondoni location, Kithecu, and Menguthe villages are particularly at risk. Given the current circumstances, we must prioritize the safety and well-being of our citizens.”

Remarking that going forth, KenGen, with government support, intends to raise Masinga Dam by 1.5 meters to assist in holding more water, which would further delay the overflow of the dam during heavy rains.

Power Production Grid & Needs

KenGen

The good water inflows have been pointed out as a vantage outcome when it comes to power production, as there has been a step up in power generation from its large hydropower stations. This increment in power production is seen as a reprieve to electricity consumers in Kenya, especially in these dire times.

Based on EPRA reports released on April 29, 2024, the power demand is at 2,033MW, of which KenGen’s share has provided more than 70% of the total power consumed by Kenyans.

This in-depth percentage shows that KenGen’s hydro has contributed 36.5%, whereas its geothermal sector contributed 32% of the power grid. KenGen’s hydroelectric power capacity currently stands at 826MW, which accounts for 44% of its installed capacity and about 25% of the total national capacity.

It’s notable that as of today, KenGen PLC has an installed generation capacity of 1,725MW, of which over 86% is drawn from green sources, namely: Hydro (826MW), Geothermal (753.8MW), Wind (25.5MW). The balance is from Thermal.

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