A firm involved in the Menengai Geothermal Power Station has received Sh400 million ($40 million) funding.
Quantum Power East Africa, an independent power producer (IPP), is set to start operations by September after receiving the funds from the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Speaking during a tour of the project in Nakuru County at the weekend, AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina said the power plant would generate 35 megawatts.
“I look forward to seeing the IPP start work here in Menengai, then change will come to the region,” said Dr Adesina.
The project, which began in 2011, has not supplied power to the country despite earlier expectations that it would be launched by 2016.
Once completed, it is expected to generate enough power to supply about half-a-million households and more than 300,000 businesses.
Nakuru County, which also hosts the Olkaria geothermal fields, has lately come under increased focus as it is seen as key in the country’s quest to upscale the generation of green energy as it targets to produce over 10,000MW to attain industrialised status.
Quantam was the first of the three IPPs that were chosen to take part in the project to receive a letter of support from the Government for the construction of the 35MW power plant.
The letter, issued last year, was one of the key conditions for the project as it served to open the way for Quantam to achieve financial closure. It was expected that the firm would start construction of the power plant in February this year.
Geothermal Development Company (GDC) Managing Director Johnson ole Nchoe said at the weekend that construction would start in September.
Two other IPPs - OrPower22 and Sosian Menengai - are expected to attain financial closure with financiers. All the three IPPs for the first phase of the Menegai Project are expected to generate a cumulative of 105 MW.
Adesina, who was accompanied by Energy and National Treasury Cabinet secretaries Charles Keter and Henry Rotich respectively, said geothermal development was the pillar of Kenya’s national development.
“Electricity is like blood in your body. Without it there is no life. No economy can operate in darkness. You cannot be competitive without electricity,” he said.
“Kenya is well endowed with geothermal. It can use geothermal to light the rest of the region. Geothermal will turn Kenya into a power exporting country.”
The AfDB head noted that going forward, electricity would be at the heart of the bank’s focus and investment.
The AfDB Group is one of the main financiers of the Menengai geothermal project. The lender extended a loan of $120 million (Sh12 billion) to the Kenyan Government that went into the purchase of three drilling rigs, drilling materials and capacity building, including the purchase of a geothermal drilling simulator, the only one of its kind in Africa.
Mr Keter commended GDC for the project, which has so far attained 165MW of steam.
“Drilling is still ongoing here in Menengai for many other phases. GDC will also soon be moving to the Baringo Silali Project,” he said.
Energy Principal Secretary Joseph Njoroge also lauded the implementation of other direct uses of geothermal energy by GDC.
“I’m glad to let you know that GDC is using heat from geothermal steam to pasteurise milk, heat greenhouses and fish ponds. I understand that soon GDC will instal a cereals drier that uses heated steam to dry food. That is critical for food security,” said the PS.