Friday, April 16, 2010

Geothermal power production needs Sh80bn

By WALTER MENYA -- Posted Monday, March 15 2010

Kenya will require Sh80 billion to produce 600MW of geothermal power over the next three years as the country seeks for an alternative to the unreliable hydro-power generation.

This will see the drilling of about 100 wells across the country to inject the additional capacity into the national electricity grid.

Geothermal Development Company is already drilling wells in Ol Karia to supply steam to KenGen to generate an additional 280 MW.

The company is also exploring other sites in the Rift Valley which will be open for bidding by KenGen and independent power producers.

In 20 years, the State corporation expects to attain 4,000 MW from 1,100 wells and 12 rigs at a cost of Sh360 billion.

The projects will be undertaken with support from development partners including Germany which has provided Sh7.5 billion to develop competency, energy secretary Patrick Nyoike disclosed on Monday.

Of the amount, Sh1.2 billion will be used for facility development while the rest will finance drilling of the wells.

However, according to Energy minister Kiraitu Murungi, Eastern African countries should consolidate their geothermal resources if they are to stabilise power supply against the unpredictable hydro and thermal power.

Least connected

Such resources are found along the East African rift system with a potential to produce 15,000 MW yet the region is still least connected with electricity.

“This sorry state is largely a product of lone-ranger thinking,” he told a regional geothermal workshop that kicked off in Nairobi.

Eleven countries are represented at the meeting that runs until Wednesday.

Among them Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, Rwanda, Zambia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, DR Congo, Comoros and Djibouti.

“Today, we are here to collectively confront this state of affairs in an effort to transform this region to a new continent of light,” the minister observed.

Kenya is ahead of its peers in this with a potential of 7,000 MW from geothermal resources which currently yields a meagre 167 MW with 163 MW connected to the national grid.