The Kenya electricity Generating Company (KenGen) recently inaugurated a major multi-million dollar geothermal power plant.
Kenya and the whole region at large have been experiencing power shortages that other innovative means of producing power have to be put into play.
The new plant will produce 140 MW as part of the final phase of the 280 MW of Olkaria geothermal power, a move that is intended to further steady the cost of electricity in the East African nation.
With the addition of 280 MW geothermal power, to the national grid, the cost of fuel component singled biggest item on the bills has witnessed a 65 % drop leading to the decline in the overall cost of power to consumers.
“KenGen is proud to be on the lead in moving the country in partnership with the government towards self-sufficiency of reliable and affordable and renewable source of energy which is also available almost 24/7,” said Managing Manager and CEO Albert Mugo.
The inspired Africa learnt that 280MW which has been steadily running on the grid since December has helped reduce the cost of power by displacing the expensive thermal fuel.
Kenyan source disclosed that the project was in excess of millions of dollars.
At the same time it has also helped stabilise the country’s power supply by reducing dependence on hydro which is prone to weather variations.
In recent months the country has had low rainfall and subsequently below average inflow of water into its hydro dams.
Currently, the company is injecting 1575MW to the national grid with geothermal for the fourth month in a row surpassing hydro as the main source of electricity and helped avert power shortages at a time when rains have failed for the better part of last year and into the new year as well.
At 7.2 US Cents per Kilowatt hour, geothermal energy is among the cheapest renewable sources of electricity in the country and the rest of the world.
It currently accounts 51 % of the national generation mix and has also averaged 41 per cent over the past six months.
Thermal sources or those powered by medium speed diesel and heavy fuel oil accounted for 21 % and is the third highest source of electricity. This represents a consistent decline from the 47% that these sources contributed prior to the 280MW and also at times of poor hydrology which was prevalent during 2014.
“The country has not experienced power rationing despite low water levels in the hydro generation dams on the Tana Cascade. This is because the 280MW project has helped to bridge the power deficit” says Mugo.