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KenGen sees geothermal as key element in Kenya’s industrialisation bid

Construction of Olkaria V geothermal power plant, Kenya Oct. 2018 (source: LinkedIn/ Roberto Razo)
Alexander Richter Alexander Richter 14 Nov 2018

Rebecca Miano, Managing Director of KenGen in a recent opinion article, highlights the potential role of geothermal energy in Kenya in the country's bid of industrialisation.

In a guest post with Kenya publication Business Daily, Rebecca Miano, Managing Director of Kenya Electricity Generation Company (KenGen) describes what important role geothermal energy will play in helping to boost the bid of Kenya in its industrialisation efforts.

Late last year, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta unveiled a five-year plan, also described as an Agenda of the Big Four. The plan as presented by him, focuses on creating 1.3 million manufacturing jobs by 2022, achieving 100 per cent health coverage, expanding food production and building 500,000 affordable houses for Kenyans. He then described this as way for Kenya to get employment and see further economic growth.

In order to achieve the ambitious plan, affordable and reliable energy is seen as a key element. KenGen, the country’s leading energy producer, has already plugged into this agenda and is undertaking projects with a total capacity of 720MW to be completed by 2020. Within the next 10 years, the company intends to add an additional 2,569MW to the national grid which will comprise of 2,029MW of geothermal power; 410MW of wind power; 90MW of hydro power and 40 MW of solar photovoltaic power.

Kenya’s geothermal future is bright and a 2016 report by Britain’s Economist Intelligence Unit concurs.

“Falling technological costs, ambitious targets, resource abundance, a pipeline of high-quality projects and support of international donor partners are driving the roll-out of renewable power in Africa. Countries can look to positive experiences in lead markets like South Africa and Kenya for strategies and best practices,” the report says in part. The latest Renewables 2018 Global Status Report places Kenya among countries with the largest amount of geothermal power generating capacity, listing it alongside the United States, the Philippines, Indonesia, Turkey, New Zealand, Mexico, Italy, Iceland and Japan.

With a current installed geothermal power generation of 14, 500 MW, Kenya today represents an installed capacity of 676 MW.

Countries which have harnessed geothermal energy are enjoying great benefits. According to Jeff Tester, a Professor of Sustainable Energy Systems at Cornell University College of Engineering, Iceland has been able to transform from dependence on imported fossil fuel to renewable energy supply for its electricity and heating.

It achieved this by integrating its geothermal and hydro resources. The United States, one of the world’s largest economies, has an installed capacity of 3,200MW which is equivalent to three nuclear power plants. The Philippines generates 23 per cent of its electricity from geothermal energy which translates to 13 per cent of the country’s power mix, while Indonesia has an installed geothermal power capacity of 1,800MW.

Being aware of the goldmine at hand, Kenya has embarked on a strategic plan to enhance the production of geothermal energy. On the ground is a team comprising project planning experts, geoscientists, infrastructure engineers, environment, health and safety specialists, drilling engineers, logistics experts, equipment maintenance engineers, plant operation engineers and reservoir and steam field engineers.

Also at hand are experts on geothermal energy development who are tasked with the role of advising the country based on their vast experience.

Rebecca Miano, MD KenGen.

Source: Business Daily