23 June 2010 – Kenya Generating Company, KenGen on Tuesday commissioned a 35 MW third unit at the Olkaria II power plant.
This is part of the company’s strategy of accelerating investment in geothermal power production.
The project was co-financed by European investment Bank (EIB) which put in Ksh 303 billion, the International development Association (IDA) (Ksh 2.2 billion) and the Agence Francaise de Development’s (AFD) (Ksh 1.6 billion) with KenGen providing the remaining funds.
The three partners have supported KenGen since the 1980s, when the company initiated geothermal exploitation in Africa and the construction of Olkaria 1 power station and have already committed to finance the construction of an ambitious 280 MW power project which includes the extension of Olkaria 1 and the new Olkaria 4 plant.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony, the European Investment Bank Vice President responsible for Africa Plutarchos Sakellaris said: "The European Investment Bank is pleased to support the continued expansion of geothermal power generation in Kenya, as part of its contribution to renewable energy and climate action across Africa. Olkaria is a key source of electricity that contributes to economic growth in Kenya and the wider East Africa region."
KenGen Managing Director, Eddy Njoroge, said the company aimed at increasing its capacity by 500 MW in five years.
"The five year strategy will stabilize the power situation in Kenya as we embark on other ambitious projects to ensure adequate and sustainable power supply to our economy. Our increased investment in geothermal power production is also in line with KenGen’s business strategy of reducing reliance on hydro power which is dependent on weather patterns, and to pursue green energy sources which are safe to the environment, ” he said.
The company also aims at bringing on stream a further 350 MW of geothermal energy by 2013 which will include 70 MW from well head generation.
With the additional power, the Olkaria II power station, the largest geothermal plant in Africa, has a combined output of 105 MW.
Njoroge reaffirmed KenGen’s commitment to ensuring adequate capacity through consistent investment in additional generation to ensure the country copes with increasing demand associated with the implementation of the economic blueprint, Vision 2030.
"Our strategy is to add the required capacity mainly through green energy with particular focus in the cost effective geothermal energy which is environment friendly and has no carbon emissions, a key concern due to increased global warming," he observed
The impact of climate change has exposed the weakness of the weather-dependent power sources, especially hydro, leading to a compelling business case for sustainable and renewable energy sources.
Sakellaris is currently on a three day visit to Kenya to inspect initiatives funded by the European Investment Bank.
The European Investment Bank delegation will also be meeting President Kibaki, Prime Minister Odinga, other senior government ministers and business leaders.