EXPLORING THE USE AND IMPACTS OF RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES IN COMBATING CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE RURAL COMMUNITIES OF KENYA: A CASE STUDY OF BUNGOMA COUNTY
IMBUGWA INYAMBURA, DIANA
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Climate change is an emerging global issue that can longer be ignored and requires immediate actions. This can clearly be seen from the unpredictable weather patterns which have made it difficult to maintain crops in the regions that depend on normal weather conditions because of the variation in weather patten. Global warming and climate change relate to one another with the increase in average global temperature believed to be naturally caused by anthropogenic activities. Climate Change and Renewable Energy (RE) are connected to a very significant level in the fact that renewable energy serves as a tool for coping with climate change, as a mitigation strategy and also as an adaptation strategy. This is attributed to RE resources being naturally clean during energy production as compared to the electricity generation from conventional resources. This study assessed the uses and impacts of renewable energy resources in combating climate change in the rural communities of Bungoma County in Kenya. This was achieved through critical review of the literature on the current climate policy projections of Kenya, and a critical review of the link between Renewable energy and Climate Change. The methodology further involved data collection through admission of questionnaires, key informant interviews and direct observation. The research utilized both Qualitative and quantitative data analysis with the Low Emissions Analysis Platform tool being used for the modeling of the energy scenarios with the Implementation of new energy efficiency policies. The findings showed that despite the significant increase in the adoption of renewable energy technologies in Kenya, rural households practice fuel staking in both cooking and lighting. Most households in the rural areas are not connected to the national electrical grid due to the high cost of connectivity. Wood is the dominant source of fuel in 95% of the households, followed by charcoal and LPG at 67% and 22% respectively. Most households use open air (three stone) cook stoves for cooking and collect their energy from the environment. There has been an increase of 86% in built up area and 37% of baren land with a decrease of 59% in vegetation cover from 1990 to 2020 impacting the environment. High initial cost, finance, lack of information and institutional barriers were some of the barriers and challenges identified in the adoption of RE technologies. Business As Usual (BAU) scenario projected an increase in energy demand and emissions by 36% and 6% respectively by 2040. Implementation of energy efficient policies projected a reduction in energy demand and emissions by 26% and 21% respectively in 2040. The finding shows that adoption of renewable energy resources and implementation of energy efficient policies is the key to reduction of GHG emissions a mitigation factor to global warming and climate change.