Geothermal Key to Local Power Needs
Oct 9, 2008 - The Nation/All Africa Global Media
Kenya's huge potential in geothermal energy remains
untapped even as the country grapples with high electricity
Energy permanent secretary Patrick Nyoike told the
National Energy Conference at Kenyatta International
Conference Centre on Wednesday that geothermal power
held the key to a rapid increase in power.
However, out of the estimated geothermal potential
of 7000 MW, only 130 MW had been developed, at Olkaria
He said two power plants of 35 MW each were currently
under construction and one of them is expected to
be commissioned by the end of this month by an Independent
The other is being constructed by electricity generator
KenGen and is expected to be commissioned mid-2010.
Mr Nyoike said 42 wells will be required to support
the planned development of the Olkaria IV geothermal
"Drilling for steam is in progress using resources
provided by the ministry of Energy in this year's
budget," Mr Nyoike said.
He said to drilling a well costs an estimated Sh400
million ($5.5 million) and seven wells had been drilled.
He said this will increase the wells to 17, of which
six are appraisal wells drilled earlier at a cost
of Sh4.2 billion.
Mr Nyoike said to provide the required amount of
steam, 25 more wells will have to be drilled at a
cost of Sh10 billion bringing the total expenditure
to Sh17 billion and the number of wells to 42.
He said although the drilling of wells was expensive,
it was cheaper to use geothermal steam production
to produce electricity as opposed to using fossil
For example, he said, a 140MW fuel oil-fired medium-speed
diesel plant consumes 219,000 tonnes of fuel every
At a crude oil price of $73.70 per barrel, it would
take two years and nine months to spend Sh17 billion
on fuel for this plant. This is the amount that is
needed to drill wells at Olkaria and fully exploit
Mr Nyoike said during the medium term plan of Vision
2030, at least 350 MW of geothermal power will be
The areas identified are Longonot (140 MW), Menengai
(140 MW), Suswa (70MW) and North Rift (140MW).
He said because most of the drilling work for steam
has a lead time of five years, most of the drilling
has to be completed by 2012.
"We therefore have to source for funds to undertake
a comprehensive and sustained drilling campaign. At
least Sh12 billion is required every year," Mr Nyoike
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