Kenya Power to replace oil with gas in its transformers to curb vandalism


Kenya Power has announced plans to replace transformers that use oil with those that require gas as parts of its concerted efforts to curb acts of vandalism plaguing its network.

Kenya Power and Toshiba Transmission & Distribution Systems (India) Ltd (TTDI), a subsidiary of Toshiba Corporation, yesterday entered into a pact to implement a pilot project aimed at decreasing distribution losses in the national grid.

The state utility says that the prototype gas-insulated transformers, the first of their kind globally, will finally provide a panacea to power disruption through vandalism.

Speaking during the MoU signing yesterday with the Japanese entity, Kenya Power Managing Director Ben Chumo said that the move was driven by the need to provide world class power to its customers.

“We are focused on bringing down system losses in our network from the current 19 per cent to single digit figures in the medium term,” Dr Chumo said.

The deal will see TTDI supply Kenya Power with 12,000 transformers, 4,000 of which having already been shipped in March this year.

Carbondioxide will now be used as a coolant in the transformers as a substitute for oil, which thieves often syphon from the machines.

Vandals eye toxic oil that is drawn from transformers and is allegedly used for frying food in roadside stalls while copper wire from the equipment is sold to fix motors and as scrap metal, which enters the global market and can end up as far away as India and China.

Dr Chumo estimated that Kenya Power makes losses of Sh17 billion annually from leakages and thefts, a number that would be reduced by up to 10 per cent by its recent MoU.

The World Bank has previously stated that Kenyans stay, on average, 25 days annually in the dark due to the country’s numerous blackouts, the recent coming late last month when the country experienced a 5-hour power cut.

“TTDI will also provide amorphous distribution transformers that are more efficient in terms of load losses with the potential to reduce overall loss to 1 per cent (about 40MW) which translates to $40 million (Sh4 billion) annually,” TTDI Charman Katsutoshi Toda said.

Dr Toda added that the Japanese outfit would supply solid insulated switch gears that will address space constraints at Kenya Power’s 33 substations that are already overloaded.

Dr Chumo also highlighted Kenya Power’s increased connectivity, with its customer base having doubled in the last three years to the current 4.9 million households.




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