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Kenya moves to third in new geothermal rankings

The Suswa substation in Narok, which is the main interchange for power from the geothermal stations at Olkaria. FILE PHOTO | NMG
The Suswa substation in Narok, which is the main interchange for power from the geothermal stations at Olkaria. FILE PHOTO | NMG  

Kenya has been ranked third globally in geothermal energy capacity additions after its steam power grew by 29 megawatts (MW) last year.

The country has improved one position from last year’s rankings when it added 20 MW to the grid in 2015 to emerge fourth, the Renewables Global Status report 2017 shows.

“Kenya completed a 29 MW addition at the Olkaria III complex in 2016, increasing the facility’s capacity to 139 MW.  At year’s end, Kenya’s total operating capacity was about 630 MW,” the report says.

Indonesia added the largest geothermal capacity of 205 MW last year followed by Turkey (additional 197 MW), Kenya and Mexico (16 MW).

Though Kenya improved in geothermal expansion, it slid one spot in the overall rankings to emerge as the ninth largest producer of geothermal electricity in the world.

It was ranked eighth last year.

Geothermal is seen as an attractive low-cost renewable energy source with low emissions and serves as a stable, reliable base-load electricity.

It has helped the country mitigate the effects of drought that resulted in lower water levels and depressed hydropower generation.

At 630 MW, geothermal now accounts for 27.3 per cent of Kenya’s total power capacity of about 2,300 MW, comprising hydropower and thermal energy.

Ethiopia is the only other African nation that has developed geothermal energy (7 MW).

Addis has, however, recently suffered delays in breaking ground for what would be Africa’s largest geothermal plant — 1,000 MW Corbetti project.

“Ethiopia shares the geothermal riches of the Great Rift Valley with Kenya, but limited development has occurred to date, with about 7 MW in place,” the report says.

The United States is the world’s top geothermal producer with an installed capacity of 3,600 MW — nearly six times Kenya’s output — followed by Philippines (1,900 MW), Indonesia (1,600 MW) and New Zealand (1,000 MW).

Mexico (900 MW) is fifth, followed by Italy (800 MW) and Turkey seventh (800 MW). Iceland is eighth while Kenya is ninth.

The Renewables Global Status report is prepared by Renewable Energy Policy Network (REN21) — a Paris-based think-tank.

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