Kenya eyes geothermal power to meet rising demand for electricity

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NAIROBI, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- Kenya plans to increase investment in geothermal power in order to meet rising demand for electricity, officials said on Friday.

Joseph Njoroge, principal secretary at the Ministry of Energy, told a briefing in Nairobi that plans are under way to deliver Olkaria V geothermal project, which will add 164.5 megawatt (MW) to the national grid.

"The first unit of 82 MW is scheduled for commissioning in April 2019, while the second one is set for commissioning in July 2019. Also in the pipeline is Olkaria 1 Unit 6 (83MW) geothermal project, which has commenced," Njoroge said as state-owned Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) released results for the financial year ending June 30.

Njoroge noted that under the country's updated Least Cost Power Development Plan (2017-2037), there is project pipeline for a total of 476 MW of power to be connected to the national grid in the next five years by tapping from wind, solar and geothermal sources.

Government data indicates that Kenya has an installed capacity of 2,359 MW, comprising 35 percent hydropower, while geothermal and thermal power contributes 29 percent and 34 percent respectively.

Njoroge said Kenya's electricity demand has been growing by an average of 6 percent a year since 2012.

In addition, the government's objective of expanding the contribution of the manufacturing sector from the current 10 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) to 15 percent by the year 2022 will increase need for more electricity supply.

KenGen controls 69 percent of the electricity market in Kenya, with the remainder being contributed by independent power producers.

Rebecca Miano, CEO of KenGen, said that 89 percent of its electricity output is from renewable sources, mostly geothermal and hydropower.

For the 2018 financial year that ended in June 30, KenGen posted a 2 percent increase in pre-tax profit of 117.5 million U.S. dollars, up from 114.6 million dollars last year, while profit after tax declined to 78.91 million dollars, compared to 90 million dollars in 2017.

Miano said that revenue generated from KenGen's geothermal power plants increased from 161 million dollars in 2017 to 171 million dollars in 2018, a growth of 6 percent.

"The growth in geothermal power is in line with KenGen's strategy which focuses on increasing geothermal energy to meet the country's growing electricity demand and unlock the company's investment in steam wells," Miano said.

She noted that total energy generation dispatch increased by 6 percent from 7,556 GWh in 2017 to 7,989 GWh for the year ended June 30.

"The increase was recorded despite a persistent drought which affected water levels within the company's reservoirs in the first six months of the year," said Miano.

She attributed the good performance to diversification of the energy sources, through which geothermal generation was able to cater for a deficit in hydro generation. Enditem

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