How Kenya is Leading Africa’s Geothermal Energy Production

For any economy to reach maximum potential, energy production has to be optimum.

Its importance is depicted by the huge sum of money countries spend on producing energy for businesses, households and to power the nation.

No nation thrives without energy and that made Kenya’s ambitious target nine years ago a welcome idea.

In six years, Kenya has moved closer to seeing all its households have electricity supply through optimal geothermal energy production.

Since that same period, production has been three times higher than its previous best. From a previous figure of 198 Megawatts (MW), the country has produced 672MW and has provided electricity for 500,000 households.

The Menengaï Geothermal Development Project, with $108 million in funding from the African Development Bank, has helped to add another 105 MW of geothermal production capacity to the national electricity grid, with three private companies involved in the process.

For the project, 50 wells were targeted for the generation of maximum steam to produce more than 100 MW. Also, 49 wells had been drilled through the end of November 2019, generating a capacity of 169.9 MW.

Kenya is aiming higher than its estimated capacity and the results have been overwhelming. In addition to the wells and energy , CO2 emissions are expected to be reduced by 600,000 tonnes from 2022.

The Menengaï Geothermal Energy Project saw 94 staff members receiving training in drilling, contracting and financing, as well as health and safety management.

Women Powering Kenya’s Energy

Not less than 44% of trained members are women. In addition, 249 staff members of the Geothermal Development Society, including 93 women, received group training. The construction of the power plant benefits about 500,000 Kenyans, including 70,000 in rural areas of the country, as well as businesses and industries. More than 600 jobs have been created.

“The ultimate goal of the project was to help Kenya overcome severe electricity shortages caused by variability of hydropower generation, which forced the country to resort to expensive backup thermal production between 2011 and 2012, and which continued through 2018,” according to a Bank project completion report.

The dream, which was conceived in 2011 is on its way to becoming a reality and the country hopes to soon power its neighbouring African countries.

The adoption of the Low-Cost Electricity Development Plan for 2011-2031 was seen as a very ambitious plan for the country but work has gone into the belief.

The development plan was updated in 2017 as power generation capacity rose from 1,227 MW in 2010 to 3,751 MW in 2018.

While the nation is yet to meet its local demands, it is charting an exemplary course in the generation of geothermal energy.


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