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Kenya commissions 35MW geothermal plant

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 22 – The Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) commissioned a 35MW unit at the Olkaria II power plant on Tuesday, as part of its strategy of accelerating investment in geothermal power production.

The project was co-financed by European Investment Bank (EIB) which injected $40.8 million (Sh303 billion), the International Development Association (IDA) with $27.6 million (Sh2.2 billion) and the Agence Francaise de Development’s (AFD) $20 million (Sh1.6 billion). KenGen provided the rest of the funds.

The three partners have supported KenGen since the eighties, when the company initiated geothermal exploitation in Africa and the construction of Olkaria 1 power station and have already committed to finance the construction of the ambitious 280MW power project which includes the extension of Olkaria 1 and the new Olkaria 4 plant.

Speaking at the commissioning ceremony, the European Investment Bank Vice President responsible for Africa Plutarchos Sakellaris said: “The European Investment Bank is pleased to support the continued expansion of geothermal power generation in Kenya, as part of its contribution to renewable energy and climate action across Africa. Olkaria is a key source of electricity that contributes to economic growth in Kenya and the wider East Africa region.”

KenGen Managing Director, Eddy Njoroge, said the investment in the additional generation capacity is part of KenGen’s strategy of increasing its capacity by 500 MW in five years.

Mr Njoroge added, “The five year strategy will stabilise the power situation in Kenya as we embark on other ambitious projects to ensure adequate and sustainable power supply to our economy. Our increased investment in geothermal power production is also in line with KenGen’s business strategy of reducing reliance on hydro power which is dependent on weather patterns, and to pursue green energy sources which are  safe to the environment.’’  

The Managing Director observed that as a sign of KenGen’s commitment, the company will bring on stream a further 350MW of geothermal energy by 2013, over and above the 35MW plant commissioned. This will include 70MW from well head generation.

While appreciating the development partners for funding the project, Mr Njoroge noted that the new unit was completed in 27 months as per schedule and went to commercial operation on May 12, 2010.

With the additional power, the Olkaria II station, the largest geothermal plant in Africa, has a combined output of 105 MW.

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The Managing Director reaffirmed KenGen’s commitment to its mandate of ensuring adequate capacity through consistent investment in additional generation to ensure the country copes with increasing demand associated with the implementation of our Vision 2030.
‘’Our strategy is to add the required capacity mainly through green energy with particular focus in the cost effective geothermal energy which is environment friendly and has no carbon emissions, a key concern due to increased global warming,” he observed  
The impact of climate change has exposed the weakness of the weather-dependent power sources, especially hydro, leading to a compelling business case for sustainable and renewable energy sources.

Vice President Sakellaris is currently on a three day visit to Kenya to see other initiatives funded by the European Investment Bank. The European Investment Bank delegation will also be meeting President Kibaki, Prime Minister Odinga, other senior government ministers and business leaders.

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