KenGen adds 140MW geothermal power to grid


A geothermal power generation station at Ol Karia. KenGen says the price of electricity should start dropping as thermal production drops. PHOTO | FILE

The cost of power is set to fall after KenGen added another 140 megawatts of geothermal power to the national grid, cutting demand for the expensive thermal sources by the same margin.

The additional energy is part of the ambitious 280MW geothermal project that KenGen is implementing in Olkaria to scale up supply of cheap power.

“We have uploaded 140MW and the balance will be fully commissioned and connected to the national grid before the end of this year,” said KenGen managing director Albert Mugo in a statement.

“Kenyans should expect to see the cost of electricity starting to decline in the coming months as geothermal gradually replaces the expensive thermal power.”

The 140MW is from two of KenGen’s Olkaria units. One has gone through reliability tests successfully while the other is expected to complete tests mid-month.

Mr Mugo said two more units will be assessed in September and October in a crash time-table which targets to commission the entire 280 megawatts by December.

The announcement comes amid intensified campaigns by KenGen to increase the component of renewable energy in the national power generation mix.

READ: KenGen to start testing its wind power plant

The State has increased investments in wind, solar and geothermal power and announced plans to completely retire all diesel generators from its energy generation mix.

A study by global consulting firm McKinsey shows that despite high capital requirement, geothermal sources are the cheapest and most sustainable energy option for Kenya.

The report says generating steam power costs Sh5.38 (6.4 US cents) while hydro-power costs Sh10.50 (12.5 US cents) per kilowatt hour.

KenGen has echoed these findings, saying that geothermal energy being extracted at Olkaria is cost-efficient with a tariff of about Sh6.10 (7 US cents) per unit.

To accelerate its geothermal power production, KenGen has resorted to mobile wellhead plants which are faster to deploy. These plants are expected to generate an additional 70MW, bringing the total additional output from Olkaria to 350MW.

“This year alone, 25.6MW generated using this innovative method has been added to the national grid,” said Mr Mugo.