Africa > East Africa > Kenya > Plugged in to Progress With Geothermal Energy in Kenya

Kenya: Plugged in to Progress With Geothermal Energy in Kenya

2013/01/13

Jackson Kiloku, a 26-year-old Masai who herds animals and raises vegetables, stood at the far end of Inkoiriento village, a panoply of wooden and rusted tin-roofed buildings in Kenya's Nakuru County, and pointed to cables in the sky. "I hope electricity will flow through them any minute at this time," he said. "Electricity will be good for our local school and good for our businesses." Daniel Parsitau, a fellow villager added that electricity would make life at home easier as well.

Both look to Kenya's Olkaria geothermal plant, on the boundaries of Hell's Gate National Park, to deliver this new electricity. Olkaria, which has received long-term support from the World Bank and other agencies, is part of Kenya's plan to substantially increase the contribution of geothermal to the country's energy mix.

Only 16% of Kenyans have access to electricity, but with evidence of abundant geothermal resources beneath the country's share of East Africa's Rift Valley, the government plans to double geothermal generation to bring electricity to villages like Inkoiriento. By presently, geothermal-developed with $300 million in support from the World Bank since 1978 -delivers about 13% of Kenya's electricity; the goal is to raise that proportion to close to 30% by 2020.

Hairdresser Elizabeth Kyalo and her assistant presently use electric appliances to straighten, dye, and style their customers' hair. Electric lighting allows them to remain open next dusk: "I have additional business presently and am able to pay for schooling of my kids," said Elizabeth.

Getting access to electricity as well improves safety for women in remote areas. Formerly Kola Division village got electricity, for example, resident Jossylyn Mutua was attacked by machete-wielding thieves who sliced her forehead and smashed her arms. She has since relocated to Nairobi but would consider moving back to her village presently that it has electricity.

"Lighting has secured the area," said Norman Mulei, a grocer, a few shops away. He and his sister run their grocery from 6 a.m. to 8 or 9 p.m. They feel that having electricity has made it safer for them to remain open at night.

Concerted world action key to providing access

It is relatively clean and non-polluting, and can provide constant power. || Pierre Audinet, Clean Energy Program Team Leader at the World Bank's Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP)

Geothermal is as well delivering carbon-free access to electricity. "It is relatively clean and non-polluting, and can provide constant power," says Pierre Audinet, Clean Energy Program Team Leader at the World Bank's Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP). "For a lot of developing nations, this is a potentially transformative resource."

Getting to that transformation, however, will take concerted international action.

A lot of other nations share Kenya's prospects. Geothermal resources are concentrated in regions of tectonic activity, from Africa's Rift Valley, to Central America, to Southeast Asia. About 40 nations worldwide have geothermal resources that could meet a very significant portion of the national electricity request.

The World Bank and ESMAP are preparing a World Geothermal Development Plan to mobilize funding for geothermal development. This partnership with bilateral funding agencies and other multilateral banks will target regions of high potential and finance the test drilling phase, to trigger further private investment along other stages of the geothermal price chain. The goal is to boost geothermal electricity production capacity in low- and middle-gain nations, and thereby deliver power to some of the 1.3 billion worldwide who remain without it.

World Bank support for scaling up geothermal

Supporting the scale-up of geothermal power in developing nations is part the Bank Group's key commitments as part of the world Sustainable Energy for Amount initiative, which aims to achieve universal energy access, double the proportion of renewable energy in the world energy mix, and double the rate of development of energy efficiency, amount by 2030. Bank Group President Dr. Jim Yong Kim recently joined with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to co-chair the advisory board that will provide strategic guidance to the Sustainable Energy for Amount initiative.

Because geothermal power projects require often extensive preliminary test drilling, they are additional capital intensive than a lot of other renewable energy projects. Significant investment is required formerly it becomes clear whether a site has the potential to recover the costs. Geothermal projects as well have relatively long lead times from the start of exploration to power plant commissioning and the prime revenues. But geothermal offers great promise, particularly in East Africa, where the Rift Valley's geothermal potential could power up to 150 million households. This is why the Bank Group is working with Kenya to support geothermal development with concessional funding in the early stages.

World Bank Group support for geothermal development is growing, rising from $73 million in 2007 to $336 million in 2012. Geothermal presently represents almost 10 % of the Bank's total renewable energy lending. The World Geothermal Development Plan is expected to boost that support even further.

Comments

Related Articles
  • UN chief hails Kenya for supporting environmental conservation effort

    2014/07/10 General Ban Ki-Moon has hailed Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Government for supporting the world effort in environmental conservation. 'Your leadership made a lot of difference to help make our environment additional sustainable,' he said. Speaking in Nairobi while closing the inaugural United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) late Friday, Ban thanked the Kenyan Government and the people for supporting the United Nations in Kenya. 'We are proud to work with you,' he said. 'Your journey dates back additional than four decades to at the same time as the General Assembly established the United Nations Environment Programme in the wake of the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment,' he said.
  • Garissa Town to Be Lit Up Kenya

    2014/06/16 Garissa Governor Nathif Jama Adam yesterday launched the setting up of 21 high-mast floodlights to improve security in the town. Jama said the Sh48 million project is expected to be completed by end of next month. He said tcriminals have been taking chance of lack of lighting in the town to commit criminal activities. "This initiative will automatically beef-up security within our neighborhood," said the governor. Last week, a grenade was hurled at a garage near the place where the governor launched the project. The governor urged residents to be vigilant and statement any criminal activities to the police.
  • ICPAK to Build Residential Houses On Thika Road in Kenya

    2014/06/12 The Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya will commence the second phase of the CPA Centre in December, adding hostels and apartments to its portfolio. ICPAK said request for residential space on Thika superhighway has increased necessitating such a project. The Sh450 million development is located within KCA University. \"We will demolish the facility that we have rented to Standard Chartered Bank in order to pave way for construction of phase two which includes hostels and apartments,\" said Benson Okundi, the ICPAK chairman. "We are targeting students or anybody else who would want accommodation."
  • The Kenyan government has done itself and wildlife protection

    2014/06/02 The Kenyan government has done itself and wildlife protection in the country no favor at the same time as in a knee-jerk reaction not too different from the recent FCO anti-travel advisory, it banned the use of UAVs aka drones to survey conservancies and private game reserves, citing once again obscure security reasons for the ban. A regular conservation source from Nairobi was swift to denounce the decision as paranoid and only benefitting poachers: “Like the Brits overreacted two weeks ago with their ban on travel to parts of the coast, so did our government here. We were all waiting to see how the trials on Ol Pejeta were going before deciding to move towards such surveillance equipment ourselves, but from what we hear, government has suddenly pulled the plug on this. I have no idea how much money Ol Pejeta has invested in this technology, but the fact that KWS [Kenya Wildlife Service] as well talked of going that way and that other conservancies were closely watching until initial results were out. speak for itself.
  • Kenya's tourist numbers down 15 %

    2014/06/02 The number of tourists dropped by 15 % last year compared to 2012, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie has said. Ms Kandie said last year, the country received 1.499 million tourists while in 2012 a total of 1.780 million tourists visited the country. She blamed the decrease on part other factors terrorism and the unfriendly travel advisories. The decline, she said, saw a drop in revenue collection, saying last year the industry fetched Sh93.97 billion compared to Sh96.02 billion in 2012.