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Geothermal overtakes hydropower generation

The use of geothermal power in the national mix has risen from 30 per cent last year to 39 per cent this year, making it the leading source of power in Kenya.

KenGen chairman Joshua Choge said yesterday the country is doing away with the expensive thermal power generation for the clean, cheaper and reliable geothermal power.

“We have already seen a reduction in the cost of power by 30 per cent due to an increase in geothermal power and we project that the prices will fall further,” he said.

He at the same time allayed fears that the cancellation of the Sh52 billion tender for the supply of wellhead generators would derail efforts at upscaling geothermal power uptake. “This is a setback to the company but we shall go back to the drawing board and start the tendering process afresh,” said Choge.

He spoke on the sidelines of a tour of Olkaria power plant in Naivasha for KenGen shareholders. Geothermal Development Company (GDC) director Abel Rotich said that power demand in the country is growing by between eight per cent and10 per cent annually.

He said supply currently stands at 2,150MW against a demand of 1,600MW at peak hours. “The biggest challenge we have is the high investment capital required in geothermal drilling and exploration,” he said.

KenGen managing director Albert Mugo said the power generating company will be advertising a tender for the construction of the 140MW Olkaria V and 70MW Olkaria I power plants early next year.

He said this was part of the government plan of achieving 5,000MW in 40 months, adding that of the 844MW KenGen was tasked to generate this year, it had already produced 380MW.

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