Olkaria Steam fields : the potential to make Kenya energy self sufficient

Olkaria Steam fields : the potential to make Kenya energy self sufficient

The Olkaria Steam fields have the potential to make Kenya completely energy self sufficient

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The vast majority of Kenya’s electricity comes from geothermal energy sources in the Rift Valley, however even in conjunction with their numerous hydroelectric power stations along the length of the Tana River, they still have a shortfall which is currently filled with electricity imported from Uganda. In order for Kenya to become a completely energy self-sufficient country there are plans to build a nuclear power station, however there are still a number of unexploited sources of geo-thermal energy available that many people believe should be utilized first.

Kenya’s growing economy and clean energy aspirations

Kenya has aspirations to not only remain one of the economic powerhouses in East Africa but to also become a geo-thermal superpower and in turn a leading producer of clean energy.

The amount of geo-thermal energy being produced in the country has increased significantly in the last 16 years, growing from 45 megawatts in the year 2000 to 533 megawatts in 2016. There are however plans to further increase the amount of electricity produced by another 721 megawatts by 2021, thanks to planned investments of over $7.8 billion in the coming years. Japan is one of the countries showing a major interest in investing in Kenya’s multiple green energy projects.

It is expected that the majority of the 721 megawatts will come from geothermal energy sources, however some will be supplied through planned solar and wind projects.

KenGen continues to increase the size of its operation at the Olkaria steam fields

The Olkaria stream fields first showed real potential in the 1970’s and Olkaria 1 Power station began producing electricity with their first unit in 1981, the second unit was then constructed 1982 and in 1985 the third unit of the Olkaria 1 power station was commissioned.

The Olkaria 2 power station was finally commissioned, following some funding delays in 2010, and was then followed in 2014 and 2015 with the construction of 4 new units on the stream fields, further increasing production.

The next step is to commence the Olkaria V geothermal project planned to begin towards the end of 2017, this is expected to then be followed by the construction of the Olkaria VI plant by 2021.

The Olkaria project in the Olkaria steam fields, is now the largest geo-thermal project in Kenya and it is believed that the supply of steam from the wells here are ultimately capable of producing up to 1000 megawatts of electricity once they can be fully exploited. This amount of electricity would be capable of fulfilling almost all of Kenya’s current power requirements.

Pictures:  globalpowerjournal.com and africacapitalgroup.com


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