Kenya: AU and Wellington Agree To Develop Geothermal Energy

Posted on :Friday , 14th May 2021

Kenya is the most advanced country in the Eastern Africa in terms of exploiting its geothermal resources. Nairobi wants to grow its installed electricity capacity and diversify the use of geothermal heat. This is the main rationale behind the partnership which was recently signed between the state-owned Geothermal Development Company, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the African Union Commission.


Through the new partnership, Kenya will be supported by the New Zealand-Africa Geothermal Facility. This facility, jointly established by the African Union Commission and New Zealand, supports projects in countries with high geothermal potential including Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.


Support for the Baringo-Silali Geothermal Project


As part of the agreement between Kenya, New Zealand and the African Union Commission, Geothermal Development Company will receive a grant of 76 million Kenyan shillings (about $ 695,000) to further develop and diversify the application of natural heat from beneath the Rift Valley. Geothermal Development Company is exploiting geothermal energy at several sites in western Kenya. In Menengai, Baringo-Silali, Akiira and Olkaria, the state-owned company relies on Independent Power Producers to convert the underground heat into electricity.


In these multiple projects, developers receive grants from the African Union's Geothermal Risk Mitigation Fund. The most recent grant, worth US$ 14.5 million, was awarded to Geothermal Development Company for the Baringo-Silali geothermal project. This project will eventually produce 300 MWe of electricity from 3 steam plants. Experts believe that the Baringo-Silali geothermal site has the potential to generate up to 3,000 MWe of electricity.


But Geothermal Development Company is working more on diversifying the applications of geothermal heat. This clean energy source can be used for greenhouse agriculture, milk pasteurisation, or in industry.


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