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Construction on first 35 MW geothermal plant in Menengai to kick off in December 2019

Drilling rig at Menengai, Kenya (source: ARGeo)
Alexander Richter 11 Oct 2019

After much delay, it looks like construction on the first of three private geothermal power plants at Menengai, Kenya is to kick off in December 2019, as reported by KBC.

As we have reported several times before that things are about to kick off on the development of 105 MW of geothermal power generation in Menengai, Kenya, we take the recent news by Kenya Broadcasting Corp. with a grain of salt.

KBC reported before the weekend, that construction for the first of the three private power plants is to start in December of this year. With transmission lines in place, three independent power producers have the necessary licenses to start operations at the crater floor of Menengai in Nakuru, Kenya.

The IPPs to develop the power plants, for which drilling was conducted by Geothermal Development Company (GDC)  are OrPower22 (Ormat), Quantum Power East Africa and Sosian Energy. The companies will be setting up power plants under a build-own-operate model (BOO). The BOO “model is a public-private partnership (PPP) project model in which a private organization builds, owns and operates some facility or structure with some degree of encouragement from the government. Although the government doesn’t provide direct funding in this model, it may offer other financial incentives such as tax-exempt status. The developer owns and operates the facility independently.” (source)

While KBC reports of a total of 170 MW, the total will be 105 MW, with 35 MW of power generation capacity each.

The project has seen some major delay. The public tender was released in September 2013 with the award the three concessions to the companies mentioned above. The PPA with Kenya Power was signed in October 2014, followed by a project implementation and steam supply agreement with GDC in October 2014. The drilling was done by GDC with H.Young building the steam gathering system under an EPC agreement. There are today 24 production wells, 5 re-injection wells, 2 wells were suspended, 4 unsuccessful, 8 are used for direct use purposes and 4 were being drilled (as of 2018).

Industry reports and our reporting indicate that Quantum Power will be the first to kick off construction.

County Commissioner Erastus Mbui Mwenda says that 85 per cent of works on a 25km long pipeline which is expected to carry the 105 MW of steam to be used by the power plants in producing electricity is complete.

Source: KBC