Kenya Taps Geothermal Assets

Kenya has a potential of over 2000 MW of geothermal energy resource located in various sites within the Rift Valley, according to new reports from Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen). This clean energy, if exploited, will replace fuel oil based conventional thermal plants earmarked for development in the current least cost development plan.

September 8, 2003 [] Nairobi, Kenya – September 8, 2003 [] This potential was revealed recently during a visit to KenGen’s MW Olkaria Geothermal Power project by the World Bank Country Director, Makhtar Diop. Olkaria II will be the second geothermal plant in Kenya. A New Zealand company, Sinclair Knight Mertz is supervising the implementation of this project. Once complete, the station will inject 64MW to the national grid. Olkaria II is estimated to cost US$178 million. The World Bank (IDA), European Investment Bank (EIB), Kreditanstalt for Wiederaufbau (KFW) and KenGen are funding the project Speaking during the tour, Diop affirmed the Bank’s support to geothermal exploitation as a clean source of electric power. He cited the Bank’s commitment to poverty eradication programs, adding that electric power development was crucial in spurring development hence reducing poverty. Diop applauded the Bank’s collaboration with KenGen in developing geothermal power in Olkaria saying through this effort, Kenya has pioneered in geothermal exploitation in Africa. KenGen Managing Director, Edward Njoroge, who guided Diop during the tour, said KenGen was committed to accelerate geothermal exploitation as a least cost indigenous resource. “By developing geothermal energy, the country will not only have clean power, but also save on foreign exchange,” Njoroge said. Traditional diesel plants are fired by oil, which is imported unlike geothermal plants that rely on steam from underground. Njoroge appreciated the Bank’s support on energy sector adding that through such support, the new 64 MW Olkaria II plant is nearing completion. The new plant is due for commissioning in the last quarter of this year. World Bank is co-financing this project together with European Investment Bank, Kreditanstalt fur Weideraufbau (KfW) of Germany and KenGen. During the tour, Diop also visited Olkaria III power station, a 12 MW plant, which is owned by an Independent Power Producer (IPP), Orpower 4. The visit to Olkaria comes a week after a major geothermal conference held in Nairobi and attended by over 150 delegates from all over the world, which explored geothermal market acceleration in Eastern Africa.

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