Sosian plant at Menengai feeds cheap power to national grid

Geothermal Development Corporation rig at Menengai Crater in Nakuru which is set to produce affordable power. [File, Standard]

The first power plant built at the geothermal fields of Menengai in Nakuru County started feeding electricity to the national grid last week. 

The plant owned by Sosian Energy is expected to displace expensive power generating capacity mostly from thermal power and likely to offer some relief in the cost of power.

With an installed electricity generating capacity of 35 megawatts, it is one of the three plants being built at the Menengai fields by different companies and will have a combined capacity of 105MW.

“In Menengai, we have seen 35MW start discharging to the grid for the first time from today (Friday). They are discharging at 6.9 US cents (about Sh9.6 per unit), which is competitive…it is good pricing,” said Energy and Petroleum Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir.

The CS was inspecting geothermal power projects in Olkaria, Menengai and Baringo-Silali.

“If we develop power that costs six US cents per unit, it will have an impact on the general cost of power since it is about a third of the cost of what we sell power to the consumers.

“As we develop more of these kinds of power the average cost of power will come down.”

Building power plants at the Menengai geothermal fields has faced major delays. The Geothermal Development Company (GDC) had in 2015 finished drilling wells and constructing steam gathering systems that deliver the steam to where the power plants are being built.

All that was left at the time was was for independent power producers that had been competitively selected to complete the project by constructing the power plants.

The firms had over the years cited difficulties in accessing financing for their projects.

Aside from Sosian, the other firms building power plants are UK’s Globeleq and US’s Orpower.

GDC Chief Executive Paul Ngugi said construction works on the second plant have commenced while only paperwork is holding the third.

He expects the two other plants to be completed and start power production soon.

“We have already broken ground for the other power plants. Currently there are one or two issues that the government is trying to resolve and we are on it.”

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