The Government of Kenya (GoK) recognizes that geothermal energy has potential to reduce overall cost of power generation in the country as a base load, cheaper, indigenous and secure fuel compared to expensive imported petroleum fuels.
At present geothermal power constitutes approximately 30% of Kenya’s electrical power mix, but 50% of the energy generated.
In order to lower the overall cost of electricity, Kenya needs to develop more geothermal power from its huge potential estimated to be more than 10,000 MW.
Through the concerted efforts of KenGen, GDC, private sector developers, Development partners and the GoK, Kenya has made significant strides in the development of geothermal energy. However, challenges still exist in developing these resources. There is room for geothermal investments by more private sector developers currently and into the near future.
The Ministry of Energy and Petroleum with the assistance from the World Bank is currently planning to hold an international geothermal investors conference for two days on 23rd and 24th May 2016 in Nairobi.
The key objective of the conference will be to showcase the achievements so far made, market available potential for geothermal investments and give opportunity to stakeholders to engage, critique the Kenya’s current policy, legal, regulatory institutional and other supportive frameworks and come up with the best ways to enable exploration and development of geothermal resources in the country going forward.
The Ministry of Energy and Petroleum is also currently developing a strategy for fast tracking geothermal exploration and development in Kenya. The investors’ conference will therefore contribute towards the geothermal strategy process.
Olsuswa Energy Limited is a Kenyan company that has applied for a geothermal resource licence at Barrier Volcanic Complex located in Turkana Country just south of Lake Turkana. This is the northern most geothermal prospect in Kenya on the Kenyan Rift System.
Barrier Volcanic Complex is a beautiful central volcano with an older and a younger caldera known as Kakorinya. The rocks are phonolites, trachytes and basalts. The latest volcanic activity is about 200 years old. The geothermal manifestations are altered grounds, fumaroles and hot springs discharging on the lower grounds. Reconnaissance studies indicate that the subsurface temperatures is at least 280 degrees Centigrade. If surface studies and exploration drilling are successful, Olsuswa Energy plans to install 140MW. The transmission line from the power plant will be connected to yet to be constructed Loiyangalani -Suswa transmission line.
Olsuswa has now advertised the following tenders and expression of interest:
OEL/RFP/001/2015-16: Barrier Access roads survey and design
OEL/RFP/002/2015-2016: Detailed Geoscientific surface Study
OEL/RFP/003/2015-2016: Baseline and Roads construction Environmental Social Impact Assessment (EISA)
OEL/RFP/004/2015-2016: Provision of Consultancy services for Geothermal Exploration Activities
OEL/EOI/001/2015-2016: Barrier Access Road Construction
OEL/EOI/002/2015-2016: Provision of Camp Services
Details of these tenders and expression of interests can be sound and downloaded from Olsuswa Energy Ltd website www.olsuswaenergy.com. The closing date for both the RFP and EOI will be on 15th January, 2015.
AkiiraOne has contracted KenGen to carryout exploration drilling at its geothermal prospect located in Naivasha and south of the Olkaria Domes site. Olkaria Domes is the location of the recently commissioned Olkaria IV 140MW power plant owned by KenGen. KenGen started mobilising its drilling rig early this month of July 2015.
On 19th February 2015, Olkaria I units 4&5 were inaugurated by H.E. Paul Kagame President of Rwanda assisted by H.E Uhuru Kenyatta, the President of Kenya. The two units have a total capacity of 140MW similar to those of Olkaria IV inaugurated in October last year. Olkaria I Unit 4 was put into commercial operation late 2014 and Unit 5 in January 2015.
The inauguration of the two units mark the final phase of the 280MW geothermal power project at Olkaria which includes the Olkaria IV which was inaugurated by H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta on 17th October 2014. The 280MW power project was one of the largest infrastructure projects in the history of Kenya and is estimated to cost about US$ 1 billion. This is a critical project of the ongoing more than 5000MW power programme initiated by the government and emphasizes the government’s commitment to enhance the country’s power for the economic and social growth.
Geothermal now accounts for 51% in the national power generation mix and has averaged 41% in the last six months. This has seen a decline in reliance on hydro and thermal sources leading to a reduction in the cost of electricity by over 30%. At US Cts 7.2/kWhr, geothermal is one of the cheapest sources of electricity in Kenya. Kenya is now working on interconnection the major cities to Olkaria including Mombasa and Nairobi and eventually to the East African Power Pool and the Southern Africa Power Pool and therefore becoming a major net exporter of power in the region.
Currently about 8 rigs are drilling continuously for steam for the next planned expansion of about 560MW. A consultant is being selected for the supervision of the construction of Olkaria V (140MW) will be located in Olkaria Domes near Olkaria IV.
HE President Uhuru Kenyatta today opened on 17th October 2014 the 140MW Olkaria IV geothermal power project. The power plant comprise of 2 units of 70MW capacity and is one of the two power plants which have been undergoing construction at Olkaria with a total capacity of 280MW. The second power plant Olkaria I units 4 and 5 will be commissioned later before the end of 2014.
The 280MW is the largest single geothermal power project of its kind in the world and confirms Kenya as one of the global leaders in the development of this renewable form of energy.
The Olkaria IV plant was built at a total cost of about $370 million. The Government of Kenya and China Exim Bank funded the drilling of the wells with the European Investment Bank, Agence Francaise de Development (AFD), the World Bank and KfW financing the construction of the plant and development of the steam fields.
Construction work began in 2012 involving consortium of Hyundai (Korea)/Toyota Tsusho (Japan) for the power plant, Sinopec (China) for steam field and KEC (India) for transmission lines. Commissioning tests for Olkaria IV unit began in June this year and were completed in August when the plant completed reliability run.