Kenyaï¿½s hydro-power sources drying up
By MWANIKI WAHOME firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted Tuesday, January 22 2013 at 02:00
ï¿½ Kenya turns focus to geothermal in the Rift Valley given that there
are no more sites to be tapped accoding to electricity producer KenGen
Kenyaï¿½s hydro-power production capacity is about to be exhausted.
Consequently, attention has now turned to geothermal sources estimated
to have a potential of 10,000MW concentrated in the Rift Valley.
Outgoing KenGen managing director Eddy Njoroge said the countryï¿½s
capacity to develop new hydro-power sources was limited due to lack of
sources where power can be tapped.
ï¿½There is not much capacity left in hydro-power production. Production
of hydro-power is site -specific. We do not see any other major hydroï¿½
power project coming up in the future,ï¿½ said Mr Njoroge.
KenGen is undertaking construction and rehabilitation of various hydro-
power plants. Kindaruma plant that has been producing 40MW will now
generate 32MW more when expansion and rehabilitation is completed.
Others lined up for rehabilitation are Kiambere, Tana and Sangoro
According to Mr Njoroge, half of the countryï¿½s power needs by 2018
will come from geothermal sources to feed rising demand and cushion it
from erratic hydropower generation.
There are two major geothermal sources that KenGen is undertaking;
280MW Olkaria 1 and 585MW Olkaria. He said commissioning of the two
plants will be done in February and September next year.
Energy experts say Kenyaï¿½s hope of attaining the 15,000MW target by
2030 lies in exploitation of its estimated 10,000MW geothermal
potential in Rift Valley.
Presently, there is less than 300MW obtained from geothermal sources.
This is due to the high initial costs involved in exploitation with
private investors initially hesitant to incur upfront costs that
involve data collection and other field studies.
The government set up Geothermal Development Company (GDC) to soak up
these initial costs of studies and facilitate the entry of private
Financiers such as African Development Bank have provided funds to GDC
to facilitate exploitation of geothermal power at the Menengai Crater
through procuring and commissioning of drilling rigs, wellhead
generation units, acquisition of offshore drilling materials, and
The government has stepped up expansion of power sources through
exploitation of geothermal, wind and solar in recent years to meet the
Current production stands at 1600MW against a peak of 1300MW. The
demand for power has been expanding with growth of the economy and
domestic connections through increased rural electrification.
ï¿½We want to shift to alternative sources of power that will provide
cheaper electricity. Geothermal energy has high initial investment but
provides cheaper electricity in the long run,ï¿½ said Mr Njoroge in an
The geothermal wells that include Olkaria and Menengai are expected to
provide over 1,200MW when operational.
KenGen has been exploring various financing options that include
direct foreign investment, vendor financing, public-private
partnerships (PPPs) and independent power projects (IPPs) as well as
built, operate transfer (BOT).
KenGen signed a Sh98.6 billion ($1.3 billion) funding deal with
Sinclair Knight Merz Ltd, a New Zealand firm, in 2010 to provide some
of the cash. The money was to be raised by a consortium of Japan
International Cooperation Agency, French Development Agency, European
Investment Bank, World Bank, and German owned development bank KfW
The countryï¿½s power demand has been growing at over eight per cent a
year, leaving a small reserve margin of less than five per cent that
is wiped out when there is drought.
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