July 25th 2017

Business / News

KenGen launches 158MW Olkaria V geothermal power plant

The groundbreaking ceremony for Olkaria V also coincides with the commissioning of 75MW of Wellhead Units which is a success story in KenGen’s efforts to scale up the provision of green, reliable and affordable energy in the fastest way possible for national development.

By Nyambura Muthoninmuthoni@kenyafreepress.comFriday, 28 Apr 2017 17:27 EAT

President Uhuru Kenyatta presides at the groundbreaking ceremony at Olkari, Naivasha.

The Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) today announced the launch of the 158MW Olkaria V Geothermal Power Plant. The plant's groundbreaking ceremony was graced by President Uhuru Kenyatta at Olkaria, Naivasha, early today. The plant is part of the company’s green energy agenda, which aims at ensuring a steady supply of energy at affordable cost in line with Vision 2030.

Funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to a tune of Sh40 billion, the project will involve the construction of two geothermal power units of 79MW each. The 158 megawatts that this project will bring once it begins operations, represents a significant addition in the form of base load power.

The groundbreaking ceremony for Olkaria V also coincides with the commissioning of 75MW of Wellhead Units which is a success story in KenGen’s efforts to scale up the provision of green, reliable and affordable energy in the fastest way possible for national development.

The Wellhead early generation units is a KenGen innovation that ensures electricity generation from the wells before a main power plant is put up.

The technology, which entails use of small power units fitted next to the wells, ensures generation can take place within as little as nine months from the time the well is tested. The main power plants usually need up to five years before power can be generated using an interconnected well system, feeding steam into a high capacity power plant.

The company has just completed plan for the first batch of wellhead units with a total capacity of 75MW. Based on the huge success of this project, KenGen is targeting to install additional capacity using similar technology to its growing portfolio of geothermal energy.

Energy and Petroleum Cabinet Secretary, Hon. Charles Keter, says Kenya is keen on modernizing its energy system by adding renewable capacity as evidenced by the raft of policies that have been implemented in recent times. Last year, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) suspended licensing of new diesel-fired plants.

“We are also working on the feed-in-tariffs policy on wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and small hydro power systems, which is intended to encourage accelerated investment in green energy,” he says. 

Under the policy, the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) will be able sign long-term Power Purchase Agreements with investors to promote the development of renewable energy.

With completion of development of Olkaria V expected in 2018, KenGen plans to put up an Industrial Park at its Olkaria Geothermal power generation hub in Naivasha, Nakuru County (120kms from the capital city, Nairobi).

KenGen CEO and MD Eng. Albert Mugo says the company is evaluating the possibility of setting up a subsidiary that will oversee non-core activities that are proving to be critical revenue streams.

The company will be 100 per cent owned by KenGen and offer consultancy services not just for players in geothermal but also other sectors, including oil and mining both in Kenya and the region.

“We will be bidding to do more jobs be it in oil, geothermal or other areas that are in line with our expertise. We have three powerful rigs that can drill up to four Kilometres below the ground and a team of skilled personnel that is unmatched in the region,” says Eng. Mugo.

As part of KenGen’s Human Capacity Development to meet business challenges, it signed an MoU last year with ITC-Faculty Of Geo-Information Science And Earth Observation, University of Twente, an international university based in the Netherlands. The main purpose of the MoU is to enhance human resource capacity in the use of geothermal and other renewable energy sources. 

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