Kenya ranks ninth globally in geothermal power

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Site construction at Olkaria V geothermal plant in Kenya on February 15, 2018. Thomson Reuters Foundation / Kevin Mwanza
FILE PHOTO: Pylons of high-tension electricity power lines are seen at the Olkaria II Geothermal power plant near the Rift Valley town of Naivasha, Kenya February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya/File Photo

Kenya has been ranked ninth globally in geothermal power generating capacity, a new report shows.

According to the Renewables Global Status 2018, the country tops in Africa with 700 megawatts (MW), retaining its place compared to last year.

Geothermal is widely considered a preferable, low-cost renewable energy source due to low emissions when compared to thermal sources.

It is also cheaper than thermal power when used as an alternative to mitigate depressed hydropower generation due to drought.

Kenya is largely dependent on hydropower. Renewable energy accounts for over 70 per cent of Kenya’s installed capacity compared to the world average of 24 per cent. Alternative energy experts see that number rising thanks to several renewable energy plants either on line or under construction.

According to a report by the Renewable Energy Policy Network, Kenya’s Olivado plant, which produces oil from avocados, is installing a biogas system that will reduce its waste streams and make the plant self-sufficient in energy, producing 1.5 Gigawatt hours (GWh).

Green energy power plants under development in Kenya include the 300 MW Lake Turkana Wind Power Plant, which is the single largest wind power plant in Africa, the 70 MW Olkaria 1 and the 140 MW Ol Karia V.

However, the Turkana wind farm has been hit by headwinds and is yet to be connected to the national grid.

The US has the largest geothermal generating capacity in the world with 2,500 megawatts followed by the Philippines (1,900 MW), Indonesia (1,800 MW), Turkey (1,100 MW), New Zealand (1000 MW), Mexico (900 MW), Italy (800 MW) and Iceland (750 MW).

Kenya has a target of 5000 megawatts geothermal capacity by the year 2030.