Kenya tops Africa, ninth globally in geothermal rankings

Tuesday June 05 2018

OlKaria geothermal plant, Kenya. A new report has ranked the country ninth globally in geothermal power generating capacity. FILE PHOTO | NATION


Kenya has been ranked ninth globally in geothermal power generating capacity, a new report shows.

According to the Renewables Global Status 2018, the country tops in Africa with 700 megawatts (MW), retaining its place compared to last year.

The US has the largest geothermal generating capacity with 2,500 megawatts followed by the Philippines (1,900 MW), Indonesia (1,800 MW), Turkey (1,100 MW), New Zealand (1000 MW), Mexico (900 MW), Italy (800 MW) and Iceland (750 MW).

Kenya beats technological heavyweight Japan which has been ranked tenth with an output of 500 MW.

The rest of the world share 950 MW.

Ethiopia is the only other African country with developed geothermal energy (7 MW).


Clean energy

The report also indicates that about 9 million households in Kenya have access to off-grid renewable energy.

“Kenya’s Olivado plant, which produces oil from avocados, is installing a biogas system that will reduce its waste streams and make the plant self-sufficient in energy, producing 1.5 Gigawatt hours (GWh),” says the report by Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st century (REN21).

Renewable energy accounts for over 70 per cent of Kenya’s installed capacity compared to the world average of 24 per cent, according to the government.

Green energy power plants under development in Kenya include the 300 MW Lake Turkana Wind Power Plant, which is the single largest wind power plant in Africa, the 70 MW Olkaria 1 and the 140 MW Ol Karia V.

However, the Turkana wind farm has been hit by headwinds and is yet to be connected to the national grid.

“In Kenya and Uganda, the number of off-grid systems deployed in 2016 outpaced the grid connections achieved by rural electrification agencies and national utility companies,” it adds.


The report also highlights growing investments in Kenya's renewable energy sector including $80 million secured by M-Kopa in 2017, the largest solar deal in Africa that year.

“By the end of 2017, M-Kopa announced that it had connected nearly 100,000 homes to solar TVs in East Africa since the launch of its solar powered TV in 2016,” says the report.

BURN, clean cooking solutions provider, sold more than 300,000 clean cook stoves in Kenya between 2013 and mid-2017, according to the report.

Geothermal is widely considered a preferable, low-cost renewable energy source due to low emissions when compared to thermal sources.

It is also cheaper than thermal power when used as an alternative to mitigate depressed hydropower generation due to drought.

Kenya has a target of 5 gigawatts (GW) geothermal capacity by the year 2030.