[dropcap]P[/dropcap]ower consumers are set for better times following KenGen’s announcement that the 158-megawatt Olkaria V geothermal power plant will be operational next year as scheduled.
The power plant is part of by the leading energy generator, Kenya Electricity Generating Company’s ambitious green energy development agenda aimed at delivering 721MW of renewable energy by year 2020 at an investment close to Ksh135 billion. The project is funded by Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) and the Government of Kenya.
KenGen Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mrs Rebecca Miano says the power plant whose construction began in January 2017 and several other green energy projects at different stages of procurement will ensure Kenyans benefit directly from reliable, clean and affordable electricity.
“Our focus is on geothermal energy, which is an eco-friendly, renewable and reliable source that can reduce consumers’ utility costs by up to 50%,” she said during a media tour of the Olkaria V project site in Naivasha.
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This will cushion consumers against impact of weather on the domestic and industrial commodity. Drought has seen water levels at KenGen hydro power plants fall below the minimum operating level.
Unless the country receives sufficient amount of rainfall in the next few weeks, the company will be forced to shut down its hydro power stations, especially the ones in the Eastern region which draw their water from River Tana. The river supplies water to Masinga, Kindaruma, Gitaru, Kiambere power plants.
The current weather forecast indicates that Tana catchment is most likely to experience depressed rainfall while the catchments for Turkwel and Sondu Rivers, which serves Turkwel and Sondu Miriu power plants are most likely to receive near average rainfall. Mrs Miano said they are scaling up geothermal and wind energy sources to offset the deficit that will be created by closure of the dams.
Mrs Miano disclosed that manufacturing of Olkaria V equipment abroad, mainly in Japan and Germany, is on schedule with several equipment already tested and ready to be shipped to Kenya. They include hotwell pumps, vacuum pumps, switch gear and steam pipes.
“A substantial portion of the materials to be incorporated in this project have been sourced locally,” said Mrs Miano.
Olkaria V is a Vision 2030 flagship energy project started with the drilling of the geothermal wells to supply the steam to drive the turbines which in turn generate electricity. The drilling of the geothermal wells to supply sufficient steam to run the power plant over its lifespan was completed in 2015.
The three contactors are M/s Sinopec Petroleum Services of China (Steam Development); a Japanese consortium comprising of Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems and Mitsubishi Corporation; and H Young of Kenya (Power Plant); and JV of Sieyuan and NEIE (both of China)
Other green energy development projects at different stages of procurement being undertaken by the energy generator are Olkaria I Unit 6, 70MW, Ngong Wind Phase III 10MW, Olkaria VI PPP 140MW, Olkaria I Rehabilitation 50MW, Olkaria I AU & IV topping plant 40MW, Modular wellheads 50MW, Meru Wind Farm 80MW among others.