By Antony Mutunga
Technology has finally been integrated further into the electricity sector in Kenya as the Government of Kenya, together with the Government of Japan, and in partnership with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Kenya Electricity Generating Company PLC (KenGen), as well as the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), launched its “strengthening capacity for operation and maintenance with the internet of things (IoT) technologies for Olkaria geothermal power station in Kenya” project.
The project aims to integrate IoT technology into the power station by installing and proving the importance and effectiveness of the technology in electricity generation and maintenance. Not only will the partnership create awareness of the technology, but it will bring about technical training on the new tech. The project will further centralize, accumulate, and analyse operational data at a data centre equipped with specialized servers and collection and transmission systems. Henceforth, the data collected and stored by the IoT system will help technicians make informed decisions on the maintenance needed.
According to Eng. Harrison Keter, acting operations manager at KenGen, the data collected and stored by the IoT system will help us make informed decisions on the maintenance we need to carry out. “It will also allow us to project the needs we require soon, “he said.
Ever since the pandemic hit, the project faced multiple challenges as it was trying to be implemented. However, despite the delay, the installation of the IoT technology was successfully concluded, and the designated staff at KenGen were able to complete the associated trainings. With training complete, the assets provided will allow JICA to provide advanced capacity-building programmes further to enhance the operations and maintenance at the power station.
The experience and knowledge gained through the IoT project will also inform other power plants and the wider industry sector in the country and the continent about the opportunities afforded by innovative technologies to address efficiency and productivity-related constraints.
According to Koji Nakaoka, Vice President and Head of the Energy and Sustainability Business and Global Sales at Yokogawa, the IoT solution provider, the move is exciting as it will help KenGen make significant progress toward sustainability by providing a digital transformation solution for integrated remote performance management. “The solution not only optimizes maintenance and maximizes power generation efficiency, but it also ensures a stable power supply,” he added.
The application of IoT technology is spreading rapidly across industrial sectors as these innovations enable the digital connection of devices, the exchange of information, and the control of processes leading to various benefits, including increased efficiency and productivity as well as reduced operation and maintenance costs. But, it is also helping put Africa on the map.
The IoT project is fully aligned with the National Development Programme of the Republic of Kenya as outlined in the Kenya Vision 2030 and with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG7 on affordable and clean energy and SDG 9 on industry, innovation, and infrastructure.