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
  • Contract signed for Africa’s biggest Wind Power Project in Kenya

    2014/04/01 The Lake Turkana Wind Power Project (LTWP), meant to add an existing 300MW of reliable, low cost wind energy to the national grid of Kenya, reached a critical milestone following the signing of the financial agreements in Nairobi, the capital. The signing of the over US$870 million financing agreements represents a major breakthrough to actualizing the biggest clean power energy project in Africa, spanning years of negotiations and fundraising, says Tshepo Mahloele, the CEO of Harith General Partners. The project will be financed with a mixture of equity, mezzanine deficit and senior deficit. The Lake Turkana Wind Power project is the initial of its kind in East Africa and will be the major wind project on the continent to date, says Mahloele.
  • Titanium minerals- 25,000 tonnes of ilmenite from Kenya

    2014/03/18 AUSTRALIAN mining company base titanium expects to ship out of the country the second batch of minerals this weekend. The company which is moving bulks of minerals from its Maumba mining site in Kwale to its Likoni jetty and storage facility is gearing to send out of the country an extra 25,000 tonnes of Ilmenite, similar to the initial shipment made last month. Speaking to the Star on phone, the company's general manager - External Affairs and Development Joe Schwarz yesterday confirmed the minerals will be heading to China, the same market it exported the initial batch.
  • Kenyan contractors fail to install solar water heating systems /Risk Jail

    2014/03/11 Kenyan contractors and property developers who fail to install solar water heating systems on buildings that use additional than 100 litres of hot water a day risk jail terms and fines under new rules laid down by the country's energy sector regulator. The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has warned developers and contractors that they must comply with energy regulations published in May 2012 on solar water heating, or risk the penalties, which aim to cut the use of non-renewable energy. "Any person who fails to comply with regulations of the ERC on water heating systems commits an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a conviction of Kenya shilling 1 million (about $12,000) or to imprisonment for a term of one year, or to both", said a media notice signed by the ERC's Director-General Kaburu Mwirichia.
  • Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda have officially presented their joint single tourist visa

    2014/03/09 Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda have officially presented their joint single tourist visa to the world at the ongoing International Tourism Bourse (ITB) in Berlin, Germany, in an effort to attract a portion of tourists globally, officials said on Thursday. Heads of delegations from the three East Africa Community (EAC) states, forming the tripartite agreement, praised the visa move launched three weeks ago by Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda as a bold move that would boost regional integration and relieve the movement of tourists across the region. Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for East Africa Affairs, Commerce and Tourism, Phyllis Kandie, said whereas in the completed tourists visiting the three nations had to seek separate visas in a cumbersome and costly process, all they needed presently was to acquire one visa at US$100 and visit the three states as a lot of times as they wished for three months.