NAIROBI, KENYA, MAY 28 — Electricity supply in Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi is expected to improve after the new 220/66 kilo volt Gas Insulated Switchgear (GIS) substation came into use on Monday.
Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter commissioned the project located at the city centre, breathing a new life into the city’s power supply network.
Assembled by Chinese manufacturer of power transformers and electrical equipment- Tebian Electric Apparatus (TBEA), the new substation replaces the 50-year-old air-insulated switchgear at Juja Road.
Its coming into operation is expected to stabilize power supply in the country’s commercial and industrial hub which has previously been facing frequent outages, affecting businesses and domestic consumers.
The substation is part of the Nairobi City Centre Network Upgrade and Reinforcement Project that is aimed at improving the flexibility of the power distribution system in the capital.
The project is being implemented at a cost of $129.9 million (Ksh13.2 billion), funded by the Exim Bank of China through a twenty-year concessional loan.
In addition to establishment of the GIS substation, the reinforcement project also involves installation of underground cables from the 220/66kV Embakasi substation to the City Centre GIS substation and further providing a link to six other substations.
These are Nairobi West, Cathedral, Muthurwa, City Square, Parklands and Likoni Road, a move which will provide alternative supply points and stabilize the power distribution system around the city.
“In the past five years, Kenya Power has invested heavily to enhance its network to improve the quality of power supply to its customers. The commissioning of this GIS substation is part of that investment,”Kenya Power managing director and CEO Ken Tarus said.
The GIS technology is more reliable and easier to operate and maintain compared to the traditional Oil Insulated Substations that also utilises more space.
Thus, the newly commissioned substation will boost the quality of power supply while reducing the maintenance cost and lowering the challenges that come with overhead cables such as vandalism and interference by human activities.
Commissioning of the GIS substation comes a few days after the 220kV underground transmission line linking the Embakasi substation to the project was commissioned, allowing transfer of bulk power from the Olkaria generation plants to Nairobi’s City Centre.
“This is the longest underground cable in the country and will ensure quality power supply in the Central Business District, Parklands, Upperhill and Industrial area,” said Tarus.
In addition to stabilizing power supply around the city, the GIS substation will strengthen the supply capacity around Industrial Area where the bulk of customers are industries.
This is a milestone for Kenya Power in its effort to support the manufacturing sector, the management said.