Geothermal plant adds 280MW to Kenya grid

Saturday December 13 2014



A geothermal plant. PHOTO | FILE

A geothermal plant. PHOTO | FILE 

By SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

The Kenya Electricity Generating Company has now connected the entire 280MW of Olkaria geothermal power to the national grid, to further lower the cost of electricity in the country. The addition to the national grid brings the total installed capacity to 1,575MW, from various sources.

At about 500MW, geothermal sources contribute nearly one-third. In October, geothermal surpassed hydro as the predominant source of energy.

“The 280MW has been stable on the grid since Sunday, December 7. We are very excited about this milestone. We see it as a score for KenGen, and also for Kenyans as it helps to further reduce the cost of power by displacing the expensive thermal fuel. At the same time, the additional power will help stabilise the country’s supply by reducing dependence on hydro, which is prone to variable weather. We have had below average flow of water into our hydro dams,” said KenGen CEO Albert Mugo.

KenGen has been the dominant power generator from hydro sources. By prioritising generation from geothermal and other renewable resources like wind and liquefied natural gas, the company could add up to 3,000MW to the grid by 2018.

“The country’s total installed capacity was 1,540MW at the beginning of the year. We have since added 340MW of geothermal,” Mr Mugo said.

In line with a government plan dubbed the 5000MW+ initiative, KenGen is required to inject 844MW into the grid by 2017; 700MW will be derived from geothermal sources. Up to 10,000MW of geothermal power are realisable from the Rift Valley. The Olkaria 280MW project comprises the 140MW Olkaria IV and the Olkaria I units 4 and 5, each with a capacity of 70MW.

The fuel cost adjustment, the biggest charge on electricity bills, has this month dropped to Ksh2.87 ($0.03) from Ksh3.47 ($0.04) per kilowatt hour.

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