Monday, January 24, 2011

Kenya Aims to Make Geothermal Energy Main Power Source

Kenya Aims to Make Geothermal Energy Main Power Source

By 2014 January 24, 2011, 2:28 PM EST
More From Businessweek
By Sarah McGregor

Jan. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Kenya, Africa�s largest producer of geothermal
power, is aiming for the energy supply to surpass hydro as the top
contributor to the country�s electricity grid by 2014, said Silas
Simiyu, chief executive officer of the state-owned Geothermal
Development Co.

A 10-year, $2.6 billion exploration plan will involve sinking 566
wells in the Great Rift Valley, where shifting tectonic plates provide
a key source of the energy, the company said in a statement yesterday.
GDC is expected to begin drilling in Menengai in central Kenya this
week, with an initial aim to find sufficient reserves to feed a 400-
megawatt facility by 2014, Simiyu told reporters yesterday.

Over the next decade, the company aims to discover 2,336 megawatts of
steam produced by hot underground rocks that boil water. The vapors
are used to power turbines. Geothermal energy currently accounts for
12 percent of Kenya�s 1,405 megawatts of generation, including an
installed capacity of 212 megawatts at a plant at Olkaria, about 120
kilometers (75 miles) outside of Nairobi, the capital.

�We should not see a situation of power shortages like we had before,�
Simiyu said.

Drought in Kenya two years ago depleted water levels at hydropower
dams, which supplies 55 percent of the country�s electricity. The
resulting power rationing between August and October 2009 hindered
growth in East Africa�s largest economy.

Kenya estimates the extent of its unexploited resources ranges between
7,000 megawatts and 10,000 megawatts at 14 �high- potential� locations
valued at $30 billion, according to the statement.

--Editors: Emily Bowers, Agnes Nikoi.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah McGregor in Nairobi at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at

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