Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Kenya: The Importance of Geothermal Energy to Continuing Economic Development

Kenya straddles a volcanic rift. It’s a green-energy geyser (National Geographic)

In 2010 fewer than one in five Kenyans had electricity. Now some 60 percent do—thanks mostly to geothermal power from the East African Rift

The percentage of Kenyans with access to electricity nearly tripled during that period, from 19 percent to 56 percent.

A key reason is the rapid expansion of geothermal power generation. Geothermal electricity, mostly produced here in Olkaria, now accounts for 28 percent of Kenya’s grid capacity, and its importance is only set to grow. It’s relatively clean and low-carbon, and in the long run it’s relatively cheap. And unlike other renewable sources such as solar, wind, and even hydro, geothermal is available year-round and around the clock. On some days right now, half the power used in Kenya comes from inside the earth.

“The reliability of geothermal plants is very high because steam is not affected by the vagaries of weather,” says John Omenge, until recently head of geo-exploration at Kenya’s Ministry of Energy. “This is the main reason why we’ve increased our geothermal focus. It has become our source of baseload power.”

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