INVESTIGATING THE CHALLENGES OFOPERATING AND MAINTAINING DIESEL POWER PLANTS - CASE STUDY OF KIPEVU 1

ABSTRACT
The purpose of the study was to investigate the challenges of operating and
maintaining diesel power plants in Kenya through a case study of Kipevu 1. The
specific objectives of the study were: To establish the technical challenges faced and
maintenance practices in the plant, to identify the economic/financial issues affecting
the plant and to identify the legal and policy setbacks. Further, we were to develop a
model diesel plant and fit the existing plant to this profile. The study was necessary to
investigate the high cost of power associated with the use of diesel plants.
The study used both primary and secondary data. Primary data was collected through
self-administered questionnaires and interviews and secondary data was obtained
through document analysis from KPLC merit order, maintenance schedules and work
orders obtained from Kipevu 1. The data was analyzed through the calculation of
various performance parameters and graphs drawn from this data.
From the case study of Kipevu 1,theyhave good maintenance practices in place.
However, we noticed that a high percentage of the work orders are generated from
breakdown maintenance but surprisingly the plant availability recorded very good
results. The major challenge of the plant is the long procurement procedures that
increase the plant downtime. The high cost of electricity was found to be as a result of
high fuel cost which trickles down to the consumer. The plant’s unavailability does
not affect the price of a unit of power since the plant bears the cost thus directly
affecting its profitability. A model plant should incorporate cogeneration, the use of
dual fuel engines and better and more efficient maintenance practices in order to
reduce the cost of power.
The study concluded thatmost of the maintenance practices carried out are breakdown
maintenance which are further affected by the long tendering process increasing the
down time. This affects the plants availability.
The study recommended that a shift based maintenance system be put in place to try
and minimize the breakdowns. Also to deal with the biggest challenge of long
tendering processes updated inventories should be kept so as to start the ordering
process before reaching the reorder point. Policies should be put in place for acquiring
urgently needed spare parts. For new plants the use of dual fuel engines and
cogeneration are recommended for better fuel economy.