7 January 2014

Kenya: Olkaria to Steam Cheaper Power in Kenya

Nairobi — The cost of electricity is set to significantly come down starting July following the completion of the 280 Megawatts (MW) Olkaria I and IV geothermal power plants.

Cabinet Secretary for Energy and Petroleum Davis Chirchir says the two projects are key in bringing down electricity tariffs thus cushioning households and business from the high energy costs.

"The completion of these two projects (Olkaria I and IV) will significantly address the issue of power costs in Kenya. This will help to further boost the competitiveness of the Kenyan economy," said Chirchir.

He added that the government was keen on lowering the cost of electricity supplied to consumers to as low as Sh6 per kilowatt hour from the current Sh16.

"The cost of producing electricity using geothermal steam can go as low as two US cents making it possible to lower the cost of energy substantially to spur economic growth," Chirchir explained.

Olkaria I and IV will produce 140 Megawatts each and are expected to be commissioned in February with plans to build additional plants at Olkaria V, VI and VII sites to generate an additional 350MegaWatts of geothermal power.

The Cabinet Secretary was speaking during a tour of the projects on Monday accompanied by Principal Secretary Joseph Njoroge, Kenya Power Generating Company (KenGen) acting Managing Director Simon Ngure and Kenya Power acting Chief Executive Officer Ben Chumo.

The government is currently implementing an ambitious programme to scale up the country's power generation capacity to 5000MW from the current 1,712 MW and is banking on cheaper sources of power like wind and geothermal to attain that goal.

Geothermal currently accounts for 13 percent of the national energy generation mix or 205MW.

Chirchir also disclosed that the government was undertaking exploratory studies in the Suswa area where the geothermal potential is between 400-600MW.

"We will be soon drilling the first wells to establish the true potential of Suswa though scientific studies so far hint at a capacity of over 400MW," he said.

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