A Kenyan geothermal
power plant "’ the way
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Nairobi, Kenya --- ESI-AFRICA.COM --- 25 October 2011 - The government of Kenya has stepped up plans to produce over 1,300 megawatts (MW) of geothermal power in the next seven years in an effort to reduce its over-reliance on hydro and thermal sources of energy.

Through its main power generator Kengen, the government has drawn up an ambitious plan that targets production of more than half of its total power from geothermal sources by 2018. In the process, the new programme will phase out its longtime dependence on thermal power and the more unreliable hydro and wind power.

“The company is deliberately pursuing a green energy strategy to cushion Kenyans from weather-induced power shortages and high power prices associated with the rising global oil prices, while assuring availability of adequate electric power for development,” said Kengen managing director Eddy Njoroge.

Kengen has earmarked a total of 3,189MW for the national grid over the seven-year period "’ a challenge that requires expansion of geothermal plants and building of new ones, as well as investing more in wind and hydro power.

Geothermal sources will contribute 49% (about 1,500MW) with dependence on thermal electricity significantly dropping.

The power firm has begun implementation of a 280MW geothermal project comprising an extra 140MW plant at Olkaria I and a new 140MW Olkaria IV project. “The target is to deliver reliable clean energy to Kenyans,” said Paul Wambugu, Kengen's leader of transformation strategy.

Currently the country survives on a total of 1,611MW, according to Kengen statistics with the company supplying 1,195MW, private generators contributing 347MW, emergency power producers (EPPs) 60MW and the rural electrification programme supplying 9MW.

Kenya's plans follow Uganda's similar power production objectives that aim to raise dependence on renewable energy in the next five years.