There has been a lot of push and shove regarding the uptake of renewable energy in Kenya. This has come with misconceptions that have made the public fall for false narratives spewed by unknown machinery on the negative effects of renewable energy In Kenya. This is far from the truth.
Renewable energy is energy derived from natural resources that replenish themselves in less than a human lifetime without depleting the planet’s resources. These resources – such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, biomass and thermal energy stored in the earth’s crust – are available in one form or another nearly everywhere.
They are virtually inexhaustible. And, what is even more important, they cause little climate or environmental damage. Fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas on the contrary are available in finite quantities only. As we keep extracting them, they will run out sooner or later. Although produced in natural processes, fossil fuels do not replenish as quickly as we humans use them.
Like any human activity, all energy sources have an impact on our environment. Renewable energy is no exception to the rule, and each source has its own trade-offs. However, the advantages over the devastating impacts of fossil fuels are undeniable: from the reduction of water and land use, less air and water pollution, less wildlife and habitat loss, to no or lower greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition, their local and decentralized character, as well as technology development, generate important benefits for the economy and people.
Worldwide increases in fossil fuel-based road transport, industrial activity, and power generation (as well as the open burning of waste in many cities) contribute to elevated levels of air pollution. In many developing countries, the use of charcoal and fuelwood for heating and cooking also contributes to poor indoor air quality. Particles and other air pollutants from fossil fuels literally asphyxiate cities. According to studies, their presence above urban skies is responsible for millions of premature deaths and costs billions.
In many parts of the world, renewable energy represents the lowest-cost source of new power generation technology, and costs continue to decline. Especially for cities in the developing world, renewable energy is the only way to expand energy access to all inhabitants, particularly those living in urban slums and informal settlements and in suburban and peri-urban areas.
There are plenty of cities in the world that already source 100 percent of their electricity from renewables. Now, they are taking steps to expand their ambitions to get rid of fossil fuels in heating, cooling, transport, and industry. With Kenya struggling with the high demand for electricity and low supply, my call to stakeholders and citizens is to embrace renewable energy.