Kenya has embarked on a move to harness alternative energy by exploiting its geothermal resources, a campaign expected to lower the cost of manufacturing in the country.
The Kenyan government says that it foresees geothermal would contribute 30 percent of its power requirements by 2030. As a result, the Kenya Electricity Generating Company has announced that it is seeking a joint venture partner to build a geothermal power plant in Naivasha, the Rift Valley Province.
The plant, known as Olkaria V, will have the capacity to generate 140MW of electricity with an estimated cost of US dollars 504 million. It says that drilling is currently taking place, with 86 Mega Watts of steam already available. The company also says it is preparing a power purchase agreement, completed a steam optimisation study while phase 1 drilling of wells goes on.
Wanjiku Manyara, General Manager for East African Petroleum Institute-Kenya, says that the country has a vast potential of geothermal power estimated at 10,000 Mega Watts.
The exploitation of geothermal power as an alternative energy comes at a time when the region is exploring oil and gas.
In Uganda, however, the development of geothermal appears a distant dream. Edwards Kato, the acting Commissioner of Geological Survey and Mines, says that the department has been conducting investigations on geothermal potential in areas of Kibiro in Hoima, Panyimur in Nebbi, Ntoroko, andKatwe-Kikorongo in Kasese district all bordering the rift Valley.
However, the investigations are yet to reveal the actual potential of geothermal energy in the country.
Eastern Africa, like most sub Saharan regional countries has an enormous geothermal resource potential but only a few have plants that are operating including the 200 Mega Watts Olkaria development in Kenya and the 7 MW Aluto Langano plant in Ethiopia.