Kenya’s largest power producer KenGen has turned to robotics in inspecting its hydroelectric stations.
The managing director Rebecca Miano said that the firm has been sending robots to inspect water tunnels at its dams. Deployment of robots has enabled continuity in power production during routine inspections, unlike in the past when plants had to be shut down to pave way for manual inspection by technicians.
“We’re able to inspect water tunnels using robots without having to shut down a whole power plant. Previously, we would have to shut down power plants, and drain the tunnels to enable people go and carry out the inspection,” Mrs Miano said in a broadcast interview.
She added that Kenya is moving to further modernise its power plants and enable more remote control of the facilities.
In November 2018, KenGen announced plans to deploy drones in surveillance of its geothermal power stations in remote, rugged Olkaria steam fields following a pact with a top Dutch research university – University of Twente.
The pilotless aircraft would help collect data and relay it to control centres in real-time.
“The company has entered into an agreement which will see it benefit from knowledge exchange and capacity building from the university’s faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC),” KenGen had earlier said.
Aside from use of drones, the partnership involved short courses, joint research and sharing of equipment at KenGen’s geothermal plants.
The State-owned electricity producer owns and operates a power basket comprising hydropower (818.2MW), geothermal (705.9MW), thermal (253.5MW) and wind (25.5MW) plants, totalling 1,803 MW and accounting for about 68 per cent of Kenya’s installed capacity. The remaining share is spread out among independent power producers (IPPs).
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