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New transmission to take geothermal power to coastal part of Kenya

Mombasa, Kenya (source: flickr/ Victor Ochieng, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 17 Mar 2016

Kenya's Ministry of Energy is planning new transmission infrastructure to take electricity produced by geothermal plants at Olkaria to Mombasa, helping to retire thermal plants and decrease electricity coast.

Reported from Kenya, the country’s Ministry for Energy is planning new transmission infrastructure to supply Mombasa and the coastal area of Kenya with geothermal power from the Olkaria fields. This could help retire thermal plants and decrease energy coast in this part of Kenya.

Energy principal secretary Joseph Njoroge said the move will lower the amount of power injected into the grid from costly thermal plants, ultimately lowering the fuel cost adjustments in power bills.

“We are trying to get the geothermal power from Olkaria to Mombasa and retire some of thermal power plants there. This will have an effect on the overall fuel cost charge,” he told Business Daily in an interview.

Reliance on diesel-powered generators to produce electricity, due to low water levels in the country’s hydro-electric dams, have been blamed for fuel adjustment costs.

Statistics by the ministry showed that as at December the country had an installed capacity of 811.3 megawatts (MW) of thermal power, almost 35.3 per cent of the overall installed capacity.

Industry estimates show it costs about 9 US cents (Sh9.18) to produce one kilowatt of electricity from geothermal energy compared to 20 US cents (Sh20.4) using diesel.

“We are only having a few challenges with the way leave for the power lines but once that is solved we shall conclude the evacuation to Mombasa. The fuel cost charge has stagnated at 2.31 per unit and we anticipate that would only get lower if we retire some of the thermal units in Mombasa,” the PS further said.

Mombasa has several thermal plants including the 90MW Rabai, the 75MW Tsavo Power popularly known as Kipevu II and KenGen’s Kipevu I and III will a joint capacity of about 193.5MW.

Kenya has injected more than 270 megawatts of geothermal power to the grid since August 2014.

Proposals by the Energy ministry showed the independent power producers (IPPs) would be paid capacity charge – even as they sit idle – to rid the economy of their burden.

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) last year said it had suspended licensing of new diesel-fired plants as the country takes a big bet on its ‘green sources’ to cut down electricity cost.

Source: Business Daily Africa