Kenya ups geothermal capacity by 83 MW but one project still in limbo

Geothermal plant. Source: KenGen (www.kengen.co.ke).

June 22 (Renewables Now) - While the contribution of geothermal energy to meeting Kenya’s power demand continues to rise with 83 MW added just recently, it has become known that a 100-MW project has been stalled over the past seven years due to its inability to obtain the required permits to drill.

Earlier this month, Kenya Electricity Generating Company Plc, better known as KenGen, commissioned the 83-MW Unit 6 of the Olkaria 1 geothermal power plant, the company’s CEO Rebecca Miano told local media on Friday.

This capacity expansion comes a few weeks after the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) reported that Kenya had registered its highest energy gross demand on May 18, 2022, and that KenGen’s geothermal power stations in Olkaria, Naivasha had provided the largest share – 14,763.37 MWh of the total new peak of 37,273.17 MWh.

According to a previous statement from KenGen, the completion of the new unit has increased the company’s installed geothermal capacity to 796 MW, which now represents 42% of its total generation.

Meanwhile, it has come to light that Geothermal Development Company (GDC) has been waiting for approval to start drilling activities at the Silali prospected site for a 100-MW geothermal project because of the lack of approval and authorisation from the County Government of Turkana, which is pending since May 2015.

This was unveiled in a report on the national government expenditure for 2020/21, as pointed out by local newspaper Business Daily Africa.

“Despite the company’s follow-up efforts through the Principal Secretary Ministry of Energy in May 2021, no response had been received as at the time of audit December 2021,” the Auditor-General says in the report.

The activities referred to in the report are part of the Baringo-Silali geothermal project, which is a development funded by both Kenya’s government and German development bank KfW that covers the three prospect areas known as Paka, Korosi and Silali. While the project has an estimated geothermal potential of 3,000 MW, GDC says on its website it plans to develop 300 MW in the first phase, including 100 MW in each of the three prospect areas.

KfW has provided a loan to finance the drilling of up to 20 wells in the Bogoria-Silali Block, but, according to the audit report, such activities have not yet been carried out in the Silali area.

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