Firms in Kenya urged to take up test and measurement solutions

Move will help in asset optimisation especially for manufactures.

In Summary

•Amotech Africa is working with KenGen, Kenya Power among other firm in driving test and measures in the country.

•In 2021, the firm was appointed as a local distributor by American renewable energy firm, GE Grid Solutions, in a bid to expand the distribution of grid solutions.

KenGen’s strategy and innovation director David Muthike with Amotech Africa MD Machacha Muchiri during a function in Nairobi/HANDOUT
KenGen’s strategy and innovation director David Muthike with Amotech Africa MD Machacha Muchiri during a function in Nairobi/HANDOUT

Power producers, utility firms and investors must adopt modern test and measurement solutions to ensure energy efficiency in their operations, experts now say.

This will also help increase the lifespan of assets, where investors have pumped billions, mainly in the manufacturing and industrial sector.

Electrical power systems such as meters and transformers are regularly tested by measuring instruments to ensure accuracy, efficiency and reliability.

According to Africa's test and measurement solutions provider– Amotech Africa, players in Kenya, and the region, need to embrace latest technologies to ensure asset optimisation.

This is from energy generation, distribution and usage by consumers.

The company is working with the country’s leading power generator, KenGen, other private Independent Power Producers (IPPs), Kenya Power and manufacturers in implementing energy solutions, with the aim of ensuring reliable and efficient supply.

The Economic Survey 2022 shows transmission and distribution losses hit 2,831 gigawatt-hours (GWh) in 2021, which was 22.8 per cent of the total electricity produced in the year.

“In any grid, there have to be losses and how do you determine these losses, you have to measure, you have to put censors, have systems that can take these measurements to the analytics and give you data that you are able to use to take action into reducing these loses,” notes Machacha Muchiri, managing director Amotech Africa.

This helps firms improve their infrastructure with the long-run benefit of lowering energy costs for consumers.

“The future is in automation, getting reliable technology that will give you accurate data in real-time that will help make or take necessary action towards these losses,” Muchiri told the Star in an interview, “This will also help bring down the cost of power from the generation, transmission all the way to distribution.”

Manufacturers in the country have overtime decried high power costs, which the firm says can be addressed by adopting modern technology.

Headquartered in Nairobi, the company which has been in operation for the last  10 years has a presence in East and Central Africa, with major operations in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, DR Congo, Ethiopia, and Uganda.

The company works with original equipment manufacturers to offer products, services, repair and calibration.

“We work in different vertical markets ranging from energy, utilities, military, education, manufacturing,” Muchiri noted.

In December 2021, the firm in partnership with global electrical test equipment expert, Megger GMBH, moved to supply the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (KETRACO) with high-voltage cable test equipment, helping to ensure the security, reliability and efficiency of electricity supplies throughout the country.

It was also appointed as a local distributor by American renewable energy firm, GE Grid Solutions, in a bid to expand the distribution of grid solutions that allow effective management of electricity, from the point of generation to the point of consumption.

Kenya Power’s manager in charge of standards, Peter Kimemia, said: “Optimisation of assets and their performance is key. Kenya Power outsources some of these services because we have a lot of specialised equipment, and sometimes we fall short of in-house capacity and equipment to address all issues.”

Kenya Power uses test and measurement solutions to detect faults on its lines even before power disruption, allowing on-time maintenance including live-line.

 KenGen which generates more than 70 per cent of the country's renewable energy has also heavily invested in automation in its operations, where up to 90 percent of generation is in renewable energy mainly geothermal.

“When you automate your operations it means you will be running more hours, so your equipment up time will be higher, which means you will be able to produce more, sale more, and maximise your revenues,”  KenGen’s  strategy and innovation director,  David Muthike, said.

Adopt technology such as the Internet of Things will enable entities to operate at minimum cost, he added.

“We are able to collect data with the use of the Internet of Things and tell when maintenance is needed, it makes operations and maintenance much more effective and efficient,” he said.

KenGen is keen to tap the more than 10,000MW of potential geothermal in the Great Rift Valley, as it continues to drive its clean energy agenda with investments in renewables.

 “Kenya will continue playing a leading role in Africa and the world in the use of clean energy,” Muthike said.

The industry is moving to predictive maintenance, experts say, hence the need for solutions such as online condition monitoring systems.

“That is where the future will not be sending a technician when there is a system failure but instead you can get information right to your gadget and send a technician when you are sure where the fault is and what needs to be done, or even where maintenance is needed before disruption,” Muchiri notes.

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