Kenya has invested heavily in geothermal power in the last four years to become the biggest geothermal power producer in Africa and eighth globally. Kenya has added 280MW from Olkaria 1 and Olkaria 4 geothermal power plants to the national grid in its bid to meet the rising demand for electricity by its population. The opening of the two power plants has also seen Olkaria geothermal project become one of the largest single geothermal investment projects in the world.
Kenya geothermal power capacity
The total installed geothermal energy capacity in Kenya now stands at 579MW, cementing the country’s place as the biggest geothermal producer in Africa and eighth globally.
USA leads with 3,389 MW of steam power followed by Philippines at 1,894MW and Indonesia at 1,333MW. Other top eight countries are Mexico at 980MW, Italy at 901MW, New Zealand at 895MW, and Iceland at 664MW.
According World Bank data, Kenya has invested heavily in geothermal power generation in the last four years to surpass countries like Japan and El Salvador who were producing more geothermal power by statistics released in 2010.
It costs 7.2 US cents to produce a kilowatt per hour of geothermal power in kenya, making it one of the cheapest renewable sources of electricity. As a result, the cost of a kilowatt of electricity has dropped by 65% from Sh7.22 in 2014 to Sh2.51 this year.
Unlike hydro, geothermal is a renewable energy and its output is not affected by change of weather, thus making the electricity prices consistent which lowers the cost on consumers. Kenyans have had to bear with increase in electricity prices during the dry seasons due to reduced amount of water in dams used in the production of power.
Currently geothermal contribution to the national grid stands at 29 per cent from the previous 13% four years ago. According to Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) it also plans to invest additional Sh142 billion in the Olkaria project, in a bid to increase the geothermal capacity by another 460 megawatts by 2018 to reduce the dependence on hydro electricity.
10 000MW geothermal power in Kenyan Rift Valley
If fully exploited, it is estimated that geothermal energy in the Kenyan Rift Valley can produce up to 10,000MW of power. Increased investments in geothermal will greatly help the country in providing reliable power and lower cost to domestic and industrial consumers while supplying clean energy.
This has seen Kenya step up geothermal development to other fields like Menengai and others. Geothermal power production forms a key part energy sector in Kenya development blueprint, Vision 2030. The total electricity power generation in Kenya is expected to reach is expected reach 15000 MW in 2030 while the current power output stands at 2300MW.
The World Bank Group has been the largest financier of geothermal power in Kenya together with Japan International Cooperation Agency, the European Investment Bank, Agency France de Development and Germany’s KFW.