German firm to build Thika power station
Posted Sunday, June 24 2012 at 16:54
Investors behind the 95 megawatt (MW) thermal power plant planned for Thika town have selected a German company to build the station, which is expected to boost Kenya’s energy supply.
Volkswagen AG’s subsidiary firm, MAN Diesel & Turbo, will build the Sh12 billion plant following a contract signed with the project owners — Thika Power Limited, which is a unit of Matelec Group of Lebanon.
Energy generated from the project will be sold to Kenya Power for distribution through the national grid.
“The African continent offers huge potential for our power plants unit,” René Umlauft, CEO of MAN Diesel & Turbo said.
Preparatory work has already commenced on the project site with power supplies expected on the national grid next year.
“Our power plant solutions can help to bridge the existing energy supply gap in many parts of the continent swiftly and smoothly.” Dr Umlauft said.
The turnkey project will see the installation of diesel engines with an expected out put of about 88 MW.
“The waste heat from the engines will be used to power a MAN MARC2 steam turbine, which will generate a further 6.8 MW of electricity.
The combination of diesel engines and a steam turbine improves the efficiency of the plant, which will produce nine per cent more electricity from the same fuel consumption,” MAN said in its statement.
The World Bank lending arm, International Finance Corporation (IFC) last month invested Sh3 billion into the power project that will use heavy fuel oils, to help diversify Kenya’s electricity away from the presently dominant hydropower.
With increasing cases of unreliable rainfall due to the effects of climate change, the country is often forced to take to thermal power sources to compensate for shortfalls on hydro-power out put.
The country is also taking on alternative sources of energy such as geothermal, wind and coal to boost electricity supply in the wake of growing demand.
Statistics by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) showed that the demand for electricity in the country has grown tremendously over the years piling pressure on generation and distribution. While the demand was 4,200gega watt hours (GWh) in 2004/05 it increased 5,318GWh in the year 2009/10.
As part of attempts to tackle the shortfall in electricity supplies, the country is going big on geothermal to improve supplies and cut its energy costs. The country has potential to produce 7,000 MW of power from geothermal and is targeting production of at least 5,000 MW by 2030.
Several wind power projects have also been rolled out including those by Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) in Ngong area. Statistics by the Energy ministry showed that the installed wind energy capacity to the grid was 5.45MW as at December 2011 and a further 20MW is expected to be commissioned by end of 2012.
The 300MW Lake Turkana Wind power project is expected to be commissioned in 2014. Other committed projects include 110MW at Kinangop and Ngong. As of 2011, proposals for development of 650MW have been received for wind energy capacity at Marsabit, Isiolo and Ngong, the ministry.