New geothermal plant to close gap to renewable sources


New geothermal plant to close gap to renewable sources

In Summary

  • New geothermal unit to inject an addition 83 MW to the national grid increasing the contribution of geothermal power to total installed capacity to 26 percent at 617 MW by 2021
  • Plant to be constructed by Japanese Marubeni Corporation alongside Fuji Electric Co.
  • Geothermal power tipped as a potential replacement for thermal energy sources owing to their clean and cost-effective attribute with an average tariff charge of Sh7.2 per kilowatt-hour

Kenya edged closer to becoming a green nation as President Uhuru Kenyatta laid the building blocks to the expansion of Olkaria I power plant in Naivasha, intensifying the push towards the realization of a 100 percent green efficient state by 2020.

The plant whose completion date is set for 2021 is expected to add about 83 (MW) megawatts to the national grid taking the share of geothermal contribution to total installed capacity to 26 percent at 617 MW.

Speaking during the ground-breaking ceremony for the plant, President Uhuru Kenyatta underlined the importance of scaling up the development of renewable energy sources pointing to their contribution to environmental conservation and reduced power bills.

“Our intention is to deepen the use of renewable energy. We have to use renewable sources of energy to protect our environment and ensure that we pass down to our sons and daughters a country as clean and green as we inherited it from our fore-fathers,” he said.

The president further expects the development of renewable energy sources to lead to the creation of employment opportunities as slashed power bills lead to cuts in the cost of production for business enterprises.

The development of Unit VI at Olkaria I is hot in the heels of the construction of the Olkaria V geothermal plant whose completion currently stands at 76 percent according to the Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter. The latter is expected to add a further 165 MW to the grid upon completion in mid 2019.

CS Keter has tipped geothermal power as a potential replacement to thermal energy sources which remain in use especially across Western Kenya.

“We are still running about 6 to 10 percent of our total installed capacity from thermal power. We hope to get rid of these expensive plants over the next few years. The average tariff of geothermal plants is about Sh7.2 (USD7 cts) as compared to thermal sources whose tariff averages at between Sh20.5 (USD20 cts) and Sh30.9 (USD30 cts)”, CS Keter said.

The deepening of geothermal development is expected solidify Kenya’s position as a world leader in the deployment of renewable energy beating Iceland to the 8th spot on the globally indexed Gigawatt Club

 

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Story By Kepha Muiruri
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