Archive for August, 2012


Kenya geothermal and the World Bank

According to a recent “International market overview”  report 2012 on geothermal by the Geothermal Energy Association,WashingtonDC,USA,   the global geothermal market is growing substantially and the current installed capacity world over is over 11200 MWe. According to the report, in the year 2010 “geothermal energy generated twice the amount of electricity as solar energy did worldwide”.  This growth is due to several factors such as economic growth, increasing concern on energy security, expansion of rural electrification in several developing and under developed countries.  The growth is occurring in several countries where large geothermal resources are lying untapped.  Further, these countries have realized the economic potential of such resources and the energy security that the resources provides, and thus giving top priority for its development. National energy policies are being modified and new policies are being drafted to aid the growth and to enhance energy supply and thus the growth in GDP. Countries like Japan and Chinaare the forerunners are making new policies to support large growth in geothermal energy sector. After the 2011 Nuclear disaster, Japan has shutdown several of its nuclear power plants and major thrust has been given to geothermal development.

The current thrust is being given to the Kenyan geothermal resources that forms a part of the geothermal province of the East African Rift valley that has a potential of generating greater than 15000 MWe.  In order to bailout Kenya from unreliable and expensive power supply from hydro and thermal power,  decentralization and augmenting electricity from renewable sources is being done by the World Bank. According to a study conducted by  “Christian Aid”, an international agency, solutions should be evolved to pullout the country from poverty by fully exploiting locally available renewable energy sources and make the country independent  from imported fuels and aid the country in unlocking economic growth. Kenya have suffered record costs of energy over the past year following erratic power generation from hydropower sources due to poor monsoon and lower water levels.  Even 67% of Kenyapopulation uses biomass as a sources of energy for household purposes.

Now new era has emerged inKenya’s power scenario with World Bank stepping in to bring in financial aid from financial sector to develop geothermal. According to a report US$ 166 million Partial Risk Guarantees in place to develop geothermal. International Finance Corporation is lending long term debt for geothermal.

Kenyapossesses at least 7000 MWe of geothermal resources potential and 202 MWe has already been developed for by Geothermal Development Company. With the WB aid coming Kenyahas set a goal to produce 5000 MWe by 2030 from geothermal resources. Kenyahas 14 geothermal sites that are ready for development. The most promising and high potential fields are Olkaria and Menengai. GDC estimates a potential of 1000 MWe from Olkria and 1600 MWe from Menengai. With this future expansion plan, Kenya will have surplus electricity and will be in a position to support other neighbouring states like Uganda and Tanzania until these countries will be in a position to exploit its EGS resources in future from high heat generating granites like the Singo granite. A rough estimate shows that 1 granites of this category are capable of 24464 x 1012 kWh of electricity.  African countries are in a position to become energy independent compared to other Asian countries by tapping its geothermal resources and become a leader in implementing CO2 mitigation and CDM strategies. This initiative by WB will encourage other developing countries inSE Asia to evolve strategies to tap geothermal resources that are idling and implement sound CDM.