KenGen bets on Eburru for cheaper geothermal power

An aerial view of the 140- megawatt Olkaria IV Geothermal Power Plant in Naivasha Subcounty/ FILE
An aerial view of the 140- megawatt Olkaria IV Geothermal Power Plant in Naivasha Subcounty/ FILE

KenGen’s plans to expand the capacity of Eburru Power Station in Naivasha to 25 megawatts from 2.4MW in the next two years, its official has said.

This is part of the ongoing strategy to increase capacity of cheaper geothermal electricity to the grid.

The electricity producer, owned 73.92 per cent by the state, says plans to drill more wells in the geothermal field, which lies north of Olkaria, are underway.

KenGen’s geothermal resources development manager Peketsa Mangi said geo-scientific studies have started at Eburru fields.

“Plans are underway to upgrade the Eburru geothermal power station from 2.4MW to 25MW in the next two years,” Mangi said.

The publicly-traded company said the project is part of the strategy to add additional 292MW of geothermal to the national grid in three years. According to statistics by the near-monopoly power distributor Kenya Power, the grid’s capacity stands at about 2,341MW.

Plans are in top gear to break ground for proposed 140MW Olkaria V geothermal power project later this month, with works set for January.

The project i8s funded to the tune of about Sh36.8 billion ( 40 billion Japanese yens) by Japan International Cooperation Agency.

“The 140MW project will be launched before the end of the year hopefully by the President [Uhuru Kenyatta] before construction which is funded by JICA starts early next year,” Mangi said.

The country has a geothermal potential of about 10,000MW. Mangi said the government was keen to turn geothermal steam into a more reliable and readily available source of electricity.

“The geothermal capacity is set to increase in the coming years due to the commitment by the government and development partners,” he said.

He noted that currently geothermal contributes about 51 per cent of power in the country, emphasizing it was the main reason the cost of electricity has come down.

“We have seen the cost of electricity in the country drop by over 20 per cent in the last one year and this is due to the move to increase geothermal power and reduce thermal power,” he said.

The senior manager, at the same time, denied reports that the company planned to evict families residing in the geothermal-rich areas owned by KenGen.

He termed as unfounded claims by the local community, noting that the location where the Olkaria V power plant would be located was currently unoccupied.

“We do not have any plans to evict any community as alleged by some of their leaders whom we always engage in case there is any upcoming project,” he said.