Geothermal Development Company (GDC) is betting on both local and foreign investors to scale up geothermal projects which the authority is developing in Menengai, Nakuru county, into commercially-viable businesses.
Through its four direct-use geothermal pilot projects being undertaken in partnership with the United States International Agency for Development (USAid), the plans to produce cheap energy targeting both small and big financiers as well as community investors for the production and processing of goods—with the concept expected to boost the country’s industrial sector as an emerging mid-income manufacturing hub.
The four projects include a geothermal-powered dairy processing unit for milk pasteurisation, which is expected to reduce energy costs by up to 60 per cent, geothermal heated aquaculture ponds, greenhouses for flowers and other cash crops as well as a laundry.
“These projects will revolutionise the way geothermal energy is utilised in the country, and when scaled up, the concept will change Kenya and communities.
We are, therefore, championing the direct use of geothermal energy for economic development,” said GDC acting managing director Godwin Mwawongo during the launch of the concept in Nakuru.
GDC also plans to gazette guidelines and policies of the geothermal direct-use projects in an effort to attract investors, saying it has technical capabilities, including drilling operation and scientific equipment, for the production of enough steam for the projects.
The Energy and Petroleum ministry, according to Permanent Secretary Joseph Njoroge, will establish a favourable regulatory framework to attract investments into the nascent sector.
“We will provide all the requisite comforts, including friendly policies that will support the investors’ desires to be part of the country’s rising geothermal economy,” he said. The Menengai geothermal project has so far achieved 132.5 megawatts (MW) while the drilling process of 60MW is currently underway.