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February 26, 2018

Limited funds delay geothermal development works in Baringo

A man walks past a geothermal well gushing steam at Olkaria exploration fields in Naivasha in 2014. /Jack Owuor
A man walks past a geothermal well gushing steam at Olkaria exploration fields in Naivasha in 2014. /Jack Owuor

Geothermal exploration work in Baringo will take longer than expected due to limited funds, the Energy Regulatory Commission estimates.

The commission’s acting director general, Pavel Oimeke, said delays in licensing, financial closure and technical hitches have contributed to delays in the setting up of the power plants by the Geothermal Development Company.

“They are still looking for a lot of support from the government, but we expect before the end of this year, they will be able to make good progress and the power plant will be under construction,” said Oimeke last week in Nakuru.

He said GDC has contracted three independent power producers to build three power plants in the project to tap and produce 105MW of electricity under phase one.

“GDC have been making good progress in drilling a number of wells. About 105 mega watts have been tendered and three companies are in the process of setting up the power plants to generate power from those wells,” he added.

GDC is undertaking geothermal development in four phases, each with an approximate 100MW of capacity. The estimated potential of the Menengai Geothermal Project is 1600MW.

Phase one of the project commenced in February, 2011. GDC has seven deep drilling rigs that are used for drilling geothermal wells.

So far, GDC has realized 160MW of steam at the well head.

The geothermal projects, which were supposed to start generating power by December this year, are said to be operational with over 105 mega watts.

He however lamented the many challenges GDC is facing in its exploration works.

“One might drill a hard rock for power but turns out to be none there, which is another challenge GDC is facing in their operation,” he said.


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