Geothermal power plant revamp to add 20MW

By Antony Gitonga | May 22, 2023
Olkaria IV Geothermal Power Station. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

The Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) has started rehabilitating the Olkaria I geothermal power plant in Naivasha with plans to increase the power supply by an extra 20 megawatts (MW).

Under the two-year programme, total power production from the plant will increase to 63MW from the current 45MW using the same amount of steam.

This came as the power generating company said works on the 140MW and 84MW Olkaria six and seven plants, respectively in Naivasha were at an advanced stage. According to KenGen Geothermal Development General Manager Peketsa Mangi, the Olkaria I power plant was shut down to pave the way for rehabilitation.

Mangi was optimistic that the revamped power plant would be bigger as the contractor moved in to replace the old turbines.

"The power plant was originally generating 45MW, but we expect this to rise to 63MW when the rehabilitation exercise is done in a couple of years," he said.

Speaking in Naivasha, the manager said the deficit caused by the shutting down of the old power plant had been addressed by 86MW from Olkaria I (unit 6) plant.

"In a bid to address the issue of electricity security, the government shall be launching the Ethiopia-Kenya transmission line where we shall be getting an extra 200MW," he said.

Mangi also announced that work on the multi-million Geothermal Training Centre in Naivasha would start in two weeks.

The project funded by the World Bank to the tune of $2.8 million (Sh384 billion), will offer training in renewable energy and is expected to be ready by next year.

According to Mangi, the groundbreaking for the centre that will serve students from Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia will be carried out in two weeks.

"World Bank has sponsored training centres in the country, and the Geothermal Training Centre will specialise in geothermal, wind and solar," he said.

Thermal power

Speaking earlier, KenGen acting Chief Executive Abraham Serem said the firm was committed to phasing out phase thermal power, which currently stands at 10 per cent by 2030.

"We have launched the process of rehabilitating several power plants through the introduction of new technology with a view of increasing energy production," he said.

Serem stated that KenGen was seeking to rehabilitate its existing power plants, mainly those powered by geothermal, to make them more efficient for a sustainable generation.

"The board has approved a ten-year corporate strategy, and we are ready to roll out, having developed a robust implementation plan to lead us in the next frontier," he said.

The country's geothermal potential stands at 10,000 MW. Thermal power accounts for nine per cent of electricity generated.

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