Geothermal now largest supplier to Kenya’s grid

Saturday September 20 2014

Kenya's geothermal electricity surpassed expectations to become the country’s largest source of power in the month of July.

Geothermal power provided 257.71 million kilowatts to the national grid, while hydropower contributed 253.87 million kilowatts, and thermal generation 251.50 million kilowatts.

According to data released by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) in May, thermal generation contributed the most that month with 295.89 million kilowatts, with hydropower at 250.18 million kilowatts and geothermal 190.75 million kilowatts.

There has been a boost in the geothermal sector from the government, in a drive to cushion the grid from overdependence on the hydroelectricity.

Last month, Kenya’s Energy and Petroleum Principal Secretary Joseph Njoroge said key geothermal power projects will be completed by the end of the year, and a total of 280MW injected into the power system from four power plants.

“We already have 140 megawatts of geothermal added to the grid in the last two months, another 70 megawatts will be fed into the grid in September, and an additional 70MW in October. These are projects under the 5000MW project,” Mr Njoroge said.


READ: Inside the ambitious 5,000MW power plan

Awarded tenders

Three firms were awarded tenders for phase one of the Menengai geothermal project. Sosian Energy, Ormat and Quantum will construct the 35-megawatt plant under a build-own-operate model.

July experienced the largest power loss (difference between total generation and consumption) with 226.60 million kilowatts recorded. The last three months have also seen Kenya turn to Uganda, importing 37 million kilowatts, with 0.33 million kilowatts being sourced from Tanzania.

Kenya currently has 1,664MW of capacity against a demand of 1,410MW, which is growing. The government plans to add 5,000MW to the country’s power output by 2017 to raise the power supply to 15,000MW by 2030.

The Ministry of Energy and Petroleum’s 2013-2016 investment prospectus shows that the country’s geothermal generation makes up just under 250MW of the total electricity production of roughly 1650MW.

By 2016, the country plans to have installed geothermal electricity generation capacity of 3533 megawatts, 1564 megawatts of hydropower and 1265.5 megawatts of wind energy.