Kenya - Electricity Generation

The huge total geothermal potential of about 10 GWe of the country is currently under a very aggressive phase of development, with an impressive construction pipeline of new projects in several areas. All the high temperature prospects are located within the Kenya Rift Valley. The most important production pole is the Olkaria geothermal field (591 MWe), in exploitation since the first units in 1985, which has been recently expanded with about 300 MWe installed in the last two years. It is operated by Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) and Orpower. Moreover, the Oserian flower farm has a direct utilization of 10 MWth for heating greenhouses and an additional self-production of 4 MWe. A small unit is operating at Eburru (3 MWe). The Geothermal Development Company (GDC) is currently drilling at the Menengai geothermal field for the development of a 100 MWe project, (expected COD in 2015). Exploration is ongoing in Eburru, Suswa, Longonot, Baringo, Korosi, Paka, Silali and in Baringo – Silali, with a forecasting of 1,500 MWe in the near future (Omenda and Simiyu, 2015).

Development since WGC2010: 11 new units, for a total capacity of 390 MWe at Olkaria (I, II, III and IV) and Eburro.

Installed capacity 594 MWe                   
Geothermal Electricity 2,848 GWh/y

Source:  Ruggero Bertani, Geothermal Power Generation in the World 2010-2014 Update Report


Installed geothermal generating capacity (December 2009) in MW

Olkaria I (East)45
Olkaria II (NorthEast)70
Olkaria III (West)48
Olkaria IV (West - binary)1.8
Oserian plant2
Total169.8

Kenya is endowed with vast geothermal resource potential along the world Kenya Rift that transects the country from north to south. Exploration reveals that geothermal potential exceeds 7,000 MWe and is capable of meeting all of Kenya’s electricity needs over the next 20 years. Out of this potential, only 167 MWe and 18 MWt are being utilized for indirect and direct uses respectively.

Kenya Electricity Generating Company Ltd (KenGen) and Geothermal Development Company Ltd (GDC) in collaboration with the Ministry of Energy (MoE) has undertaken detailed surface studies of most of the prospects in the Kenya rift, which comprises Suswa, Longonot, Olkaria, Eburru, Menengai, Lakes Bogoria and Baringo, Korosi and Paka volcanic fields. The Least Cost Power Development Plan (2008-2028) prepared by the Government of Kenya indicates that geothermal plants have the lowest unit cost and therefore suitable for base load and thus, recommended for additional expansion.
Electric power demand in Kenya currently stands at over 8% annually. In order to meet the anticipated growth in demand, The Kenya Government through the newly formed utility (GDC) has embarked on an ambitious generation expansion plan to install additional 1500 MWe and 4000 MWe of electric power by the year 2018 and 2030 from geothermal sources respectively. The planned geothermal developments require over 1000 wells to be drilled and about 30 large power stations of about 140 MWe each to be built at a total cost of over US$16 billion inclusive of wells and steam gathering system.
An important addition since 2005 was the 36 MW at Olkaria III, from Ormat, finally reaching the initial planned target of 48 MW; moreover, projects for additional units at Olkaria I, II and IV have been approved and it is expected to be completed within two years. The installed capacity increased of 29%, a very good result for counties with a significant amount of operating plant. The geothermal production at Olkaria started in 1981, with the first 15 MW unit, and it has been under a continuous and increased exploitation till now, with the two plants of Olkaria I and II, operated by KenGen.
It should be highlighted also the minor utilization of two small 2 MW plants at Oserian Development Company Greenhouses. Oserian began as a 5 hectares vegetable-growing farm in 1969. Today it has grown to be a 210 hectares farm specializing in floriculture with an annual output of 400 million stems to Europe, covering 30% of the cut-flowers European market. It has to make sure that the thousands of flowers growing in its massive greenhouses have a constantly mild temperature. The wells Oserian uses are not suitable for the mass power production KenGen needs, but are perfect for supplying the warmth and CO2 needed for growing roses (Geothermal Rose Project).
The greenhouse heating system is powered by 2 MW Ormat binary-cycle power plants commissioned in 2004 and an additional Elliot 2 MW steam turbine in 2007, making the company self-sufficient in electricity need for heating and controlling the humidity in the greenhouses, which in turn protects the flowers from fungal diseases and so reduces the amount of fungicides used.
The only other field outside of Olkaria is the adjacent region of Eburru, where a small binary pilot plant is planned.

Taken from Ruggero Bertani’s paper, " Geothermal Power Generation in the World 2005–2010 Update Report ", published in Proceedings of the World Geothermal Congress 2010, Bali, Indonesia, 25-29 April 2010; 
Silas M. Simiyu :"Status of Geothermal Exploration in Kenya and Future Plans for Its Development", Proceedings of the World Geothermal Congress 2010, Bali, Indonesia, 25-29 April 2010.