Kenya SGR electrification to take 28 months- contract signed

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Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (KETRACO) has signed a Shillings 24.2bn ($US 239m) contract with China Electric Power Equipment and Technology Company (CET) for the electrification of the Mombasa – Nairobi section of Kenya’s Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

The electrification project will involve the installation of catenary and 14 substations along the 472km route, with power being provided by Ketraco’s 400kV Mombasa-Nairobi Transmission Line (MNTL), which was energised in August 2017. The line has a transmission capacity of 1500MW, just short of current national demand of 1700MW.

“Ketraco signed a contract worth $240 million with China Electric Power Equipment and Technology Company Limited (CET) on January 25, 2018,” the parastatal’s managing director Fernandes Barasa says in the opinion piece. Ketraco says the MNTL was constructed to address the challenges of low voltages, high transmission losses and unreliable supply in Kenya’s national electricity grid.

 

However, Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) managing director Mr Atanas Maina said in a television interview last month that the country lacks the reliability of supply needed to sustain the operation of an electrified railway. “It was something that we would love to have, however, the country does not have a dependable source of electricity,” he says.

Ketraco says it will use the money to build 14 substations between Mombasa and Nairobi, adding that the main goal of the project is to have the railway run on clean energy and further reduce transport cost.

This is expected to spur growth of factories, businesses and urban centres along the railway line, the implementing agency has said.

“The design of the SGR, initially run by diesel-powered locomotives, allows for addition of a single electric line that will be connected to Ketraco’s 482 kilometre 400kV Mombasa-Nairobi transmission line,” the agency said.

The transmission line, billed as the longest and highest voltage transmission infrastructure in East Africa, has a transfer capacity of 1,500 megawatts (MW) which is 200MW shy of the current national demand of 1,700MW.

Ketraco says power for the SGR will be provided by geothermal plants, reducing CO2 emissions from train operations to zero.

Electrification is due to be completed within 28 months.