Geothermal resources in Kenya are located within the Rift Valley with an estimated potential of between 7,000 MW to 10,000 MW spread over 14 prospective sites. Geothermal has numerous advantages over other sources of power: it is not affected by drought and climatic variability; has the highest availability (capacity factor) at over 95 %; is green energy with no adverse effects on the environment; and is indigenous and readily available in Kenya, unlike most thermal energy that relies on imported fuel. This makes geothermal a very suitable source for baseload electricity generation in the country.
The current installed capacity in the country is 198 MW with 150 MW operated by KenGen and 48 MW by ORMAT Power 4, both in the Olkaria Block. An additional 280 MW, scheduled for commissioning in 2013, is also under development in the same block. Drilling is ongoing in the Menengai Field for Phase I of 400 MW, whilst initial project development activities have commenced for the development of 800 MW in the Bogoria – Silali Block. These are geared towards meeting the Vision 2030 Medium Term target of 1,600 MW by 2016 and eventually 5,000 MW by 2030.
Realizing the need to reduce the long gestation periods in the development of geothermal power, the Government has set up the Geothermal Development Company (GDC) to undertake integrated development of geothermal power through initial exploration, drilling, resource assessments and the promotion of direct utilization of geothermal resources. GDC is 100% owned and funded by the Government. By undertaking the initial project activities, GDC will absorb the attendant risks associated with geothermal development and therefore open up opportunities for both public and private participation.
The Government is cognizant that joint efforts will be required from both the public and private sectors for accelerated development of the country’s geothermal resources. Therefore, under the FiT Policy, the Government has gazetted a tariff not exceeding US Cents 8.8 per Kilowatt-hour of electrical energy supplied in bulk to the grid operator at the interconnection point for up to 70 MW.
It is estimated conservatively that the Kenya Rift has a potential greater than 2000 MWe of Geothermal Power. A total of twenty sites have been earmarked for further investigation. Exploration first started by drilling two wells in 1956 in Olkaria I and was followed by increased interest in the 1970s. Initial production started in 1981 when the first plant of 15MW was commissioned in Olkaria I. Currently 45MWe is generated by Olkaria I Geothermal Power Station; 70 MWe is produced from Olkaria II (both operated by KenGen) and an IPP is producing 12Mwe at Olkaria III. KenGen and the IPP produce a total of 129 MW of geothermal energy, and this is expected to increase to 576MW within the next 20 years.
Table 1: Exploration Status Of Geothermal Prospects
|Prospect||Reconnaissance||Surface Exploitation||Wells Sited||Wells Drilled|
|Suswa||complete||complete||Not done||Not done|
|Menengai||complete||complete||Not done||Not done|
|Badlands||complete||Partial||Not done||Not done|
|Lake Magadi||complete||Not done||Not done||Not done|
|Arus||complete||Not done||Not done||Not done|
|Lake Bogoria||complete||Not done||Not done||Not done|
|Korosi||complete||Not done||Not done||Not done|
|Paka||complete||Not done||Not done||Not done|
|Silali||complete||Not done||Not done||Not done|
|Emuruangogolak||complete||Not done||Not done||Not done|
|Namarunu||complete||Not done||Not done||Not done|