Kenya’s geothermal steam plant is getting ready for use

Kenya Electricity Generating Company, KenGen, has noted that its new 165.4-megawatt (MW) Olkaria V plant powered by geothermal steam, is near completion and should be ready for commissioning in July 2019.

Geothermal energy, which is used to drive turbines for electricity production is currently the second biggest source of Kenya’s annual power generation of 2,336 MW, accounting for 26.84 percent.

KenGen, which produces about 80 percent of the electricity consumed in the country, began construction of the Olkaria V plant in 2017. The power station is jointly financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and KenGen.

According to KenGen’s Managing Director, Rebecca Miano, the development of the 165.4MW Olkaria V Geothermal Power Plant in Naivasha is 75 percent complete. The company also released a statement noting that “Two generator units, each weighing 130 metric tonnes, departed the Port of Mombasa yesterday, signalling the beginning of the final process towards the completion of the plant.”

“On ground, both platforms are ready to receive the generators and the hoisting team is in place, having assembled the powerhouse crane and specialised hoisting system. The hoisting and positioning of each generator unit will take approximately three days, including the preparations before hoisting arrival for each, everything will take a minimum of one week,” Miano added.

KenGen has an installed capacity of 1,631 MW. The company owns 15 hydropower plants with a combined capacity of 820MW, five thermal power plants of 256MW, five geothermal power plants of 530MW and one Wind power plant at Ngong of 26MW resulting in the total installed capacity of 1,632MW. But that is not enough for the company which intends to add an additional 720 MW by 2020 to cater for growing electricity demand.

KenGen relies on various sources to generate electricity in Kenya; hydro, geothermal, thermal and wind. Presently, hydroelectricity is KenGen’s leading source of providing electricity in Kenya, with an installed capacity of 0.821 Gigawatt (GW), 52.3 percent of the company’s installed capacity.

Geothermal electricity generation is currently used in 24 countries, while geothermal heating is in use in 70 countries.  As a source of renewable energy for both power and heating, geothermal is forecast to have the potential to meet 3-5 percent of global demand by 2050.