Geothermal in Kenya
Kenya’s geothermal resource is located within the Eastern Rift Valley, a geological feature stretching from Ethiopia in the north to Mozambique in the south. Recent estimates suggest a resource potential of between 7,000MW to 10,000MW spread over 14 sites in Kenya.
Geothermal is expected to play a major role in powering the country’s development towards achieving Vision 2030 and becoming a middle-income country. Furthermore, expansion of geothermal to increase resilience of current and future energy systems is considered as both a mitigation and adaptation action in Kenya’s Nationally Determined Contribution to global climate change mitigation under the country’s commitment to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convension on Climate Change) Paris Agreement. Kenya Second National communication to the UNFCCC recognizes geothermal sector as having the largest abatement potential (14MtCO2e) by 2030.
|Olkaria 1 4&5||140.0MW|
|Orpower I,II,III||110.0 MW|
|Orpower 4th Plant||29 .0MW|
View geothermal sites on map here
- Installed MW
- The Suswa Geothermal Prospect has an estimated potential of 750MW which will be developed in phases.
- It’s expected that Phase 1 will develop 150MW. GDC has already obtained an environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) license for the project.
- With geothermal surface scientific studies and infrastructural designs completed.
- GDC’s 59 geothermal wells in Olkaria have a total yield of 412MW. GDC is selling 320MW of steam to KenGen for electricity generation.
- It is the first prospect to ever be explored and developed. The large prospect estimated at 82km2 was divided into seven sectors for development efficiency.
- There is a total of 5 power plants; two owned by KenGen, one by Orpower International and the last two by Oserian Development Company Ltd
- Menengai Geothermal Project is being developed in four phases each of approximately 100MW. The estimated potential of the Menengai Geothermal Project is 1600MW
- Phase I of the project commenced in February, 2011. GDC has seven (7) deep drilling rigs that are used by a Kenyan crew for drilling geothermal wells. So far GDC has realized 137MW of steam at the well head.
- GDC has contracted three (3) IPPs to construct three power plants under Phase 1 of the Menengai. The agreement stipulates that the IPPs will finance, design, con¬struct, install, operate and maintain the plants on a Build-Own-Operate (BOO) basis. The IPPs have also signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Kenya Power who will off-take the generated power.
- The Baringo-Silali Block has an estimated potential of 3,000MW which will be developed in phases. The first three phase will each develop 100MW with funding from the Government of Kenya and KfW.
- Detailed surface studies were completed in early 2013 and an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) License obtained from NEMA. A community engagement framework has been established and the community has given GDC land access rights.
- Already a 70Km access road has been completed. Water supply and drilling services contracts have been awarded. GDC will develop this resource that spans across the Turkana and Baringo Counties in phases. Phase targets to generate 200MW of electricity.
Resources and Technology
- In Kenya, more than 14 high temperature potential sites occur along the Rift Valley with an estimated potential of more than 10,000 MWe.
- Other locations include Chyulu, Homa Hills in Nyanza, Mwananyamala at the Coast and Nyambene Ridges;
- In Kenya, drilling of the first geothermal steam in Olkaria I of 45 MW started in 1954 and it took 30 years to for the plant to be connected to the grid in 1985. However, improved in technology has seen this gestation period reduce progressively to about 10 years with wellhead technology.
- KenGen has embarked on a new technology of using well-head generators to generate energy while the plants are undergoing construction.
- The time used to drill, install and supply power to consumers will be reduced drastically under the new technology.
- Geothermal energy is generated when super-hot steam from the earth crust is used to rotate turbines of power generators. The steam is ejected through drilled wells sometimes up to more than three kilometres deep into the ground.
- Ideally, wellheads take the shape of a normal geothermal power plant, but in a smaller version. While a geothermal power plant is run by steam piped from tens of wells, a wellhead utilises steam from just a single well.
- Once the main plant is fully constructed, the wellheads are removed and moved to different stations, so that steam from the wells can then feed into the main plant.
Direct use of Geothermal resources
In Menengai GDC has pioneered four pilot projects that use direct heat from geothermal natural geothermal heat is used to
- pasteurise milk,
- to launder clothes,
- to heat fishponds and
- in greenhouses.
The direct use of geothermal resources cuts the cost of energy in production and accelerates the growth of aqua-life and plants thereby making products competitive in the market. This unique technology uses direct heat from mother earth and makes tilapia to grow 30 % faster when the ponds are maintained at the optimal 29oC. Savings on geothermal controlled greenhouses amount to about 40% because greenhouse heating protects crops from frost, and accelerates growth. The same goes to the savings for laundering clothes and for heating water for washing clothes.
The Africa Geothermal Centre of Excellence
In 2016, African countries agreed to set up the Africa Geothermal Centre of Excellence and to be hosted by the Government of Kenya. The African Rift Valley Countries: Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia.
A Steering Committee was formed to be chaired by the African Union Commission to lead and oversee establishment of the Centre in Kenya. Centre of Excellence is expected to build capacity of young African geothermal scientists, engineers, drillers, technicians and financiers to ensure secured and sustainable geothermal development in Africa. The steering committee have visited GDC to assess its preparedness to build capacity in geothermal resource development within the region. The team inspected training facilities and equipment at Naivasha and the Menengai project area.
- UNEP has recently conducted a regional geothermal skills gap analysis, which shows that if the countries intend to continue to explore and develop their geothermal resources, there is a serious need for skilled manpower in all fields, such as geology, geochemistry, reservoir engineering, drilling engineering, environmental planning, project management, etc.
- Technical training will be done on Leapfrog geothermal software; a leading 3D geological modeling software developed exclusively by industry experts for geothermal, mining, exploration, civil engineering and groundwater technology.
Policy and Regulatory Framework
- The Geothermal Resources Act, Revised Edition 2012: The Geothermal Resources Act No. 12, enacted in 1982 to control the exploitation and use of geothermal resources and vests the resources in the Government. The current Act was revised in 2012.According to Part I of the Act:
- All un-extracted geothermal resources under or in any land shall be vested in the Government subject to any rights which, by or under any written law, have been or are granted or recognized as being vested in any other person.
- The Minister may, by notice in the Gazette, declare that any area of land where geothermal resources have been discovered or which is a source or is believed to be a source of geothermal resources shall be a geothermal resources area.
- Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any written law or instrument of title, no person shall sink a bore, tap or take and use or apply geothermal resources for any purpose unless he is first granted an authority or licence under this Act.
- The Feed in Tariff Policy, offers a tariff not exceeding US Cents 8.8 per Kilowatt-hour of electrical energy supplied in bulk to the grid operator at the interconnection point for up to 70 MW.
- Kenya Electricity Grid code; 2008, Provides clear guidelines to investors on power connection to grid, controls and ownership.
Some ISO standards that relate to geothermal sector are ISO 17628:2015 on Geotechnical investigation and testing; Geothermal testing; Determination of thermal conductivity of soil and rock using a borehole heat exchanger and ISO 13256 on evaluating geothermal heat pumps.