, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 2 – Akiira Geothermal Limited has received a Sh138 million grant from the African Union Commission (AUC) to fund exploratory drilling works it is currently undertaking in Naivasha.
The grant by AUC is part of the Geothermal Risk Mitigation Facility and is aimed at mitigating financial risks that early stage private sector developers bear when drilling in the search of geothermal steam suitable for power production.
The firm commenced exploratory drilling in August 2015 in a bid to construct a 70MW geothermal power plant.
Akiira Geothermal Chief Executive Robert Bunyi told Capital FM Business that already two wells have been drilled and a third one will be drilled in April 2016.
“In total we are expecting to drill about 15 wells, this is an expensive project we are grateful for the grant from the AUC, we still need more financing as the whole project costs $300 million,” Bunyi said pointing out that the plant will add another 70MW by December 2018 to the national grid.
In August 2015, Akiira Geothermal Limited signed a power purchase agreement with Kenya Power at a cost of 9.23 US cents per kilowatt hour.
The firm received a Sh86 million grant from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) in October 2014 as part of President Obama’s Power Africa programme that facilitated to pay for the technical and legal work needed before drilling.
Akiira Geothermal is owned by Centum Investments in conjunction with three other non-Kenyan entities that include Ram Energy of the United States, Marine power of the USA and Frontier Investment management.
Centum Investments Director Chris Kirubi said the fund will enable the firm embark on its second stage exploratory drilling works with the aim of finding at least 77MW of steamy energy sufficient to drive the power plant for 25 years.
Centum is also targeting power production through its proposed Lamu Coal power plant expected to add another 960 MW to the national grid.
Energy Principal Secretary Joseph Njoroge called on investors to come in and invest in Greenfield energy assuring of support from the government.
“I assure you we have the most robust and dependable frame work by investors in the continent. Nobody can beat us in matters of power purchase agreements,” Njoroge said.