Kenya to harness green energy potential

December 6, 2011
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KenGen MD Eddy Njoroge/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 6 – The country continues to inch closer to realising its dream of harnessing its huge potential for green energy following the signing of an agreement that paves way for the installation of a substation and transmission lines in the geothermal power project in Olkaria, Naivasha.

The Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) has signed a contract with KEC International that will see the Indian firm construct facilities that will serve the two new power plants that are being built in the area.

“The contract provides for an upgrade of the current substation at Olkaria II and a new substation at Olkaria I and there will be another substation in Olkaria IV. In addition, there will be a transmission line between Olkaria I and Olkaria II and another 220kV line between Olkaria II and Suswa substation. Another line will be constructed between Olkaria IV and Suswa substation,” KenGen Managing Director Eddy Njoroge said.

This means that all the power generated from the Olkaria area will be transmitted to Suswa substation for onward distribution across the country.

The project’s cost amounts to Sh2.4 billion ($27 million) and is expected to take 27 months to complete.

The last phase of the power project involves steam development, a contract which KenGen hopes to award next year and will bring the total project cost to Sh89.8 billion ($1 billion).

The two initiatives at Olkaria are scheduled for completion within the same time lines – April 2014- and will unlock about 280 Megawatts (MW) which will be fed into the national grid.

A further optimisation of the area has revealed that the area around Olkaria has the potential to generate an additional 520MW and KenGen is already looking to hire contractors to exploit this potential.

“By the time we complete these projects, it will be time that this country will be firmly on the road to green energy as we have promised,” Njoroge declared.

When this happens, the country will reduce it’s over reliance on hydro-power which has exposed the public and business community to untold suffering and inconveniences.

Besides enjoying reliable supply, electricity consumers will also benefit in that their power bills will be lowered by as much as 30 percent.

But as the government continues to pursue its green energy-led strategy, consumers will in the meantime have to contend with expensive and interrupted power supply.

The only reprieve they can expect is for example when the country receives adequate rains like it is currently happening.

The heavy rains that are being experienced in the country in the last few weeks for instance have helped to fill the Masinga Dam, which is the main reservoir for the Seven Forks cascade.

As at Tuesday morning, water levels at the dam whose optimum point is at 1,056.5 meters above sea level were at 1056.01 meters.

Njoroge disclosed that while this has helped them to scale up hydro-power generation, the benefits of reduced electricity bills will only begin to be felt by January 2012.

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