IMPACT OF CLIMATE VARIABILITY ON DAM LEVELS AND HYDROELECTRIC POWER PRODUCTION: A CASE STUDY OF KAMBURU DAM

ABSTRACT

The main objective of this study was to assess the impact of climate variability on both dam levels and hydroelectric production at Kenya’s Kamburu dam. The study explored the relationship between dam levels and hydroelectric power production through statistical analysis of primary data obtained from KenGen and the Kenya meteorological department. The study used both primary and secondary data. The study objectives were achieved by analyzing monthly records of rainfall and temperature dating back at least 30 years to establish the prevailing climatological normal. The effect of climate variability was shown via a comparative analysis of the trends of annual rainfall, inflows, dam levels, and power production.

From the report’s findings, the mean annual rainfall for the Kamburu area is 762.3mm and is bimodal with long rains from March to May and short rains from October to December. The dam receives a steady, controlled inflow inflow from Masinga dam and natural inflows Thiba River. When there is no overspill at Masinga, the flow through Masinga Dam’s turbines are released to flow into the Kamburu reservoir at a maximum theoretical inflow rate of 2*45m3 per second. From Thiba River, the mean annual inflows over the 1982-2015 period are 222.4 cumecs per year.

The report found that Dam levels at Kamburu fluctuate across a narrow range between 1000m and 1006m. However, climate variability events such as severe droughts and heavy rainfall fluctuate them across this band and push them beyond this narrow range. The mean annual Power production from 1991-2015 is 405.467Gwh and its trend is highly correlated to Dam levels, inflows, and Rainfall.

The report found that rainfall has a direct effect on inflows and subsequently on dam levels. The report also found that the rise and fall of dam levels across the years is mirrored by a rise and fall of annual power production. Overall, the report found that annual rainfall patterns and levels are correlated top power production, thus firmly affirming the study’s hypothesis that climate variability has a big impact on dam levels and power production. The report closed by suggesting practical mitigating solutions to reduce the negative effects of climate variability on power production at Kamburu Dam.

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