KenGen plans to add 400MW geothermal energy to the national grid

Energy Cabinet Secretary, Amb. Dr. Monica Juma joins senior Kengen staff in a tour of the control room at one of KenGen's Olkaria geothermal power stations in Naivasha. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

The Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KENGEN) has announced a plan to add 400 megawatts (MW) of geothermal power to the national grid in the next five years.

The State agency says the output would completely phase out thermal power.

Under the project, KenGen will rehabilitate some of its geothermal power plants and upgrade others as it continues with exploration around Olkaria and Eburru.

The company announced that works on Olkaria 1 Unit Six was complete with the plant undergoing testing.

General Manager Mary Maalu said power demand in the country was on the rise and they targeted 83.3MW from the Olkaria 1 Unit six plant by May this year.

“Currently, engineers are doing the test runs in Olkaria 1 Unit Six and we expect this plant to be commissioned by next month and pump 83.3MW into the national grid,” she said during a consultative meeting with journalists in Naivasha on Saturday.

By 2025, the company targets 40MW from turbine upgrading and 50MW from well head leasing around the geothermal rich area of Olkaria.

Ms Maalu said other plans include tapping an extra 50.7MW by rehabilitating Olkaria I and another 140MW from Olkaria VI power plants.

She said peak demand had increased to 2,036MW by November last year from 1,710MW in 2017, adding that the company was keen on green energy.

Renewable energy accounts for 91 per cent of the electricity generated in the country as the government works on phasing out thermal power, the GM said.

“Olkaria has a potential of 10,000MW of geothermal energy and we are keen to tap this so that the cost of power can go down once we are done with thermal, which is very expensive,” she said.

Acting Geothermal Development Manager Pekesta Mangi said Kenya was leading in Africa in geothermal production.

He said geothermal energy had risen from 45MW in 1985 to 799MW currently, with KenGen identifying 23 spots in the country that had high potential for clean energy.

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