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Geothermal company eyes heat parks for Baringo-Silali

By Macharia Kamau | June 10th 2021
Geothermal Development Company (GDC) Chief Executive Officer Engineer Johnson Ole Nchoe with leaders and other GDC officials after inspecting a Geothermal rig at Paka Hills in Silale, Baringo county on September 16, 2019. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Kenya’s Baringo-Silali Geothermal Block is a prime region for industrial heat resource parks.

According to Geothermal Development Company (GDC) Managing Director Jared Othieno, the recent discovery of geothermal wells at Paka and Korosi fields, has given the company impetus to pursue holistic utilisation of the energy. 

Speaking during a supervisory mission of the KFW-funded project yesterday, Othieno expressed confidence that the block is a productive one. 

“We’re delighted that just recently we struck a big well of about 17MW-18MW. Such a high yielding well gives us a lot of hope in this field. Our strategic projections are to ensure optimal utilisation of geothermal resources beyond generation of electricity. There is so much that geothermal has to offer and that is what we are working on,” Othieno explained. 

The heat resource park is an integrated geothermal complex where, besides electricity, geothermal heat is mined for industrial heating and for leisure and recreation. A similar concept is being developed for the Menengai Geothermal Project in Nakuru County.

The Baringo-Silali block is estimated to have a potential of 3,000MW. For the first phase, GDC is targeting to develop 300MW by 2030 from the following fields: Paka, Korosi and Silali. 

“This project is transformative. It will change the face and fortunes of the region and that of the country. When you hear Baringo-Silali, imagine geothermal energy; imagine a game-changing project,” the GDC boss said. 

Fresh water

The KFW- the German Development Bank- mission was led by the Country Director Kenya and Somalia, Oskar von Maltzan. The director extolled GDC’s strategy of integrating fresh water supplies to the local community. 

In this strategy, GDC integrated its water system with fresh supplies to communities for domestic and cattle use. 

“We have laid a 160km freshwater pipeline to serve the community. GDC installed 20 water treatment points where the water is purified using reverse osmosis. Now there is plenty of water for domestic and cattle,” said Othieno. 

GDC started drilling operations at the Baringo Silali-Block towards the end of 2019. So far, the company has drilled five wells- all productive. Currently the company is drilling a sixth well. 

“Even with the Covid-19 pandemic, our rigs continued to drill. Our field crew have demonstrated admirable resilience that, against all odds, they have been committed to serving the nation,” noted Othieno. 

KFW is financing the first phase of the Baringo-Silali Geothermal project at a cost of €80 million. Key components of the financing include drilling of up to 20 exploration and appraisal wells, construction of access roads and water supplies, feasibility studies and management consultancies. 

“The progress so far is impressive,” noted Mr Maltzan. “There are many highlights in this project. I think the most exciting one was to see that huge well discharging steam.”

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