In East Africa, Kenya’s Olkaria 1 geothermal power plant has enabled the country to reduce the amount of imported power by nearly 52% in the first half of this year.
According to data from Kenya’s Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), the country imported 27.97 million kWh from Uganda and Ethiopia in the first half of this year, a 51.7% drop from the previous year, which imported 57.91 million kWh, SeeNews reported.
Olkaria 1 geothermal power plant
The drop in power imports can be linked to the 280MW geothermal power plant, Olkaria 1, which came online at the end of 2014.
“The 140MW Olkaria 1 additional Unit 5, the last phase of the single largest geothermal project in Africa was commissioned in December 2014 following successful reliability tests. The plant is now adding140MW to the national grid”, state-owned power company KenGen said.
According to SeeNews, this has resulted in a 20% decrease in power bills within the last year.
Kenya geothermal resources
Government’s short-term strategy aims to add 5,000MW of power by 2017. It currently has just over 2,000MW installed generation capacity.
Currently, only 32% of the country’s population has access to power, which the government plans to increase to 70% within five years.
Last year, KenGen Chairman Joshua Choge said: ‘If the rains had been better in the major catchment areas where we have our hydro-power stations, the effect on costs would have been bigger.
“Fortunately, with geothermal power, we do not have concerns about drought or off seasons; it is reliable and long term. We are getting the steam from wells that are 3km deep.”