Menengai project by GDC with first successful well at 8 MW

GDC drilling site at the Menengai crater, Kenya (source:
Alexander Richter 17 May 2011

Geothermal Development Company drills first successful well with 8 MW steam output at the Menengai project in Kenya, hitting steam at already 900 meters, which is not as deep as expected, thereby saving time and resources.

In news from Kenya, Geothermal Development Company (GDC) says it” has struck a substantial amount of steam energy at Menengai crater which it plans to use in power generation.

When in full operation steam energy can cut the country’s power bills by more than half.

GDC managing director Silas Simiyu said they had sunk a well with an 8MW of geothermal power capacity.

“We expected lesser megawatts from this well but Menengai is a high yield geothermal field. We might end up drilling lesser wells if production will be this good,” he said.

The MD said the company aims to start producing more electricity by March next year.

Speaking at the site, Mr Simiyu said industries will no longer relocate from Kenya citing high power bills.

He said GDC will not only generate geothermal power which is cheaper, reliable and clean, but will also produce water, dry steam and heat as well.

Extract dry steam

“A geothermal well produces thousands of litres per minute in form of hot steam after generating power.

“GDC will condense it to produce water, extract the dry steam to be used in different industries such as dairy processing while at the same time tapping Sulphur to produce sulphuric acid and other industrial chemicals,” he said.

Mr Simiyu said the company hit steam in Menengai at 900 metres thereby taking it lesser time, manpower and other resources.

“Because we were using our drilling rigs and engineers, we cut the cost of drilling from the usual Sh500 million when using hired machinery and personnel to Sh250 million,” he said.

Mr Simiyu said power from the well will be used to drill other wells in the crater instead of using diesel powered generators thus making huge savings.

“In a bid to quickly tap into the Menengai fortune, we are encouraging the installation of small portable well head generators that will start producing electricity within one year after completion of a well as we await the construction of a conventional plant in 2014,” he said.

The managing director said quicker generation of power would also open up investment opportunities to businesspeople.

He said that apart from local economic gains from the geothermal power, the country will be earning Sh4 billion per year as carbon credit for every 5,000MW of clean energy.

The Menengai geothermal field has a potential of 1,600MW which GDC plans to harness and invite independent power producers to put up conventional plants.

Mr Simiyu said Menengai might be the second largest producer of geothermal power in the world after the geysers of California in the United States.

Addressing the media at a Nakuru hotel after a tour of the geothermal site, Mr Simiyu said the success in Menengai meant that Kenya was inching closer to an era of affordable, reliable and clean energy.”

Source: Daily Nation, Business Week