The Opportunity for Cheap Energy for Data Center in Kenya

The Opportunity for Cheap Energy for Data Center in Kenya

What would be the ideal source for cheap energy for data centers in Kenya?

The Seven Forks Dams along Tana River derives its name from a section of the river where it branches into seven tributaries. This is Kenya’s hydro electric powerhouse and for a long period, it was the primary source of electrical power in Kenya, until Geothermal plants came into the matrix.

The main advantage of hydro power is that it is renewable, and the second one is that it is cheap. Of all the sources of power that energize the Kenyan grid, hydroelectric power is the cheapest, as shown below.

Various Energy Sources in Kenya and their cost

From the above data, hydropower and solar provide a very affordable source of power in Kenya, and a combination of the two can help provide affordable redundant power.

Harnessing the solar power is easy. One can set up a solar farm and produce their own power. This is a direction that many companies are taking in Kenya. In the recent past, a number of large power consumers have taken this route in an attempt to lower their energy cost. To benefit from Cheap Energy for Data Center, Cloudoon’s Masinga Green Data Center plans to set up a solar farm for this purpose.

Cheap Hydro power

However, benefiting from cheap hydropower is not as easy as solar power. Kenya Electricity Generating Company is the leader in producing hydroelectric power in Kenya, but Kenya Power is the company that does the power distribution. The cost of power supplied by Kenya Power is quite high, with commercial power charged at about KShs 10.90 per KWh. Add taxes and this moves to about KShs 17/18 per unit.

How then can one get affordable hydroelectric power?

One way is to set up own micro hydroelectric power station. This is not easy, but opportunities for such exist as there are a number of places that can allow for that. However, when high reliability is needed, this may not be the way to go. There are so many moving parts involved and getting the power can become a full-time enterprise.

One other option is to partner with the producers, such as KenGen, to get the power at an affordable cost. Currently, KenGen is planning to set up industrial parks where it can woo manufacturers with cheap energy. Although this is planned for the Geothermal power sources, the same should be extended to hydroelectric power sources along the seven forks dams. This would be a turning point for large consumers who can set up near the generators.

Cheap Energy for Data Centers

Data Centers are one of the most energy thirsty facilities in the world. It was reported that Google uses more electric powers than some countries such as Zambia and Sri Lanka. The computing power comes at a cost, and the problem of Cheap Energy for Data Centers is a worldwide problem.

In order for Kenya to have affordable Data Centers, the question of energy must be unlocked and one way to do this is to seek the cheap energy for data centers. Solar energy should be pursued, and the hydropower generators should be part of the equation.

Some Data Centers in Nairobi are already exploring using solar energy, with some adding a solar farm t the existing Data Centers. This reduces their energy cost and makes their operations greener. However, no one has unlocked the full potential of hydropower, and the only way to do this is to partner with the power generators as well as considering a location near the power plants. Changing location is not possible for the existing Data Centers, but new one can consider a location near the hydropower plants to benefit from green and cheap energy for data center.

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