KenGen’s plan to add 158MW geothermal capacity on course

Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) has assured it is on course to add 158 megawatts (MW) from Olkaria V geothermal power plant next year as originally planned.

Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Rebecca Miano said the plant and several other green energy projects at different stages of procurement will ensure Kenyans benefit directly from reliable, clean and affordable electricity.

“Our focus is on geothermal energy, which is an eco-friendly, renewable and reliable source that can reduce consumers’ utility costs by up to 50 per cent,” she said.

Miano who spoke during a tour of the Olkaria V project site in Naivasha disclosed that manufacturing of Olkaria V equipment abroad, mainly in Japan and Germany, is on schedule with several equipment already tested in readiness for shipment to Kenya.

They include hotwell pumps, vacuum pumps, switchgear and steam pipes. “A substantial portion of the materials to be incorporated in this project have been sourced locally. These include cement and concrete materials, all reinforcement steel bars, steel beams and all fencing materials,” she said, adding that civil and structural works are handled by local experts.

Miano said all earth-works at the site are complete and the main activity in progress is subsurface ground stabilisation to create a strong foundation. The next site activity will be the construction of concrete foundations for erecting the powerhouse and mounting the generation equipment.

Olkaria V is a Vision 2030 flagship energy project started with the drilling of the geothermal wells to supply the steam to drive the turbines which in turn generate electricity. The drilling of the geothermal wells to supply sufficient steam to run the power plant over its lifespan was completed in 2015.

The three contractors are M/s Sinopec Petroleum Services of China (Steam Development), a Japanese consortium comprising of Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems and Mitsubishi Corporation and H Young of Kenya (Power Plant) and JV of Sieyuan and NEIE (both of China) Olkaria V is part of the company’s revamped Good-to-Great (G2G) strategy, which seeks to diversify and grow its power generation portfolio.

KenGen’s current installed capacity is 1631 MW and comprises hydro, thermal, geothermal and wind. Miano has assured electricity consumers that they will be cushioned against the impact of weather vagaries on the domestic and industrial commodity. The drought has seen water levels at KenGen’s hydropower plants fall below the minimum operating level.

Unless the country receives sufficient amount of rainfall in the next few weeks, the company will be forced to shut down its hydropower stations, especially the ones in the Eastern region which draw their water from River Tana. The river supplies water to Masinga, Kindaruma, Gitaru and Kiambere power plants.

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