Construction begins on Olkaria geothermal power project

plant Martini DKThe project was expected to raise KenGen's total electricity capacity by 25 per cent. (Image source: Martini DK/Flickr)Construction work on the Olkaria 280MW geothermal project has been launched by Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki

The President said at the launch ceremony that the project would raise Kenya Electricity Generating Company's (KenGen) total electricity capacity by 25 per cent and help it meet the power demands of the country's population.

Kibaki remarked, “I am happy to note that this project begins the shift from hydro-based electricity to a geothermal-based power future.

“Unlike hydro generation that is affected by vagaries of nature, forcing us to rely on expensive modes of generation, geothermal is affordable, stable, renewable and clean.” 

The Olkaria I and IV geothermal power projects were expected to be completed by 2014.

A trend of Kenya’s power generation shifting form water-powered turbines to the more dependable geothermal and wind-powered plants has been noted in the past few years.

“Once the Olkaria project facilities were completed, Kenya would be on the global geothermal map as it would be the world’s single biggest project in terms of power output,” said Kibaki.

The project has the potential of bringing the country closer to claiming one of the top positions in terms of global geothermal output, which is currently led by the US with 3,000MW and Philippines with 2,000MW.

KenGen revealed that Kenya was trying to generate at least 5,000MW from its vast geothermal resource by 2030, and that KenGen would soon start generation of 65MW from geothermal energy using the mobile geothermal wellhead, a new technology introduced from Iceland.

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