Geothermal energy in Kenya

The African Development Bank (AfDB) claimed that there were delays in money released for the project while audit reports have not been handed in on time.

“You need to address the challenges in processing disbursed funds. Audits from the last fiscal year were also not submitted in time and we are concerned,” Lawson Zankli, AfDB country programme officer, yesterday told participants at a workshop in Nairobi.

He said that AfDB regulations required fund beneficiaries to provide project audit reports every six months.

“The bank has rules that guide all its operations and those have to be taken into account at all times,” said Mr Zankli.

The bank is a key financier of the 400 megawatt Menengai Phase I that is scheduled for commissioning by 2016.

The project will cost an estimated $847 million (Sh70.3 billion) on completion, according to projections by the Geothermal Development Company (GDC).

Some 120 wells are marked for drilling at the site near Nakuru town. Private investors will be sourced to build and operate four power plants at the site each with an out put of 100 megawatts.

Mr Caleb Indiatsi, deputy manager in-charge of corporate planning and strategy at GDC, said the company is committed to conducting regular audits of finances and operations.

“Different aspects of audit have been scheduled for every two months,” he told participants at the workshop.
He said that a feasibility study for the Menengai Phase I is still underway and expects to conclude the exercise in the last quarter of this year.

“Expression of Interest for the 400 megawatt plant has already been floated and 19 companies have been short-listed. Request for proposals will be issued to the companies once the results of the study are known,” he said.

The official said the company would install six drilling rigs at the Menegai site that has a geothermal potential of more than 1,600 megawatts.

GDC currently has two drilling rigs at the Menengai site and expects to install two others by June and the rest by May 2013.

Mr Indiatsi said the firm had drilled five test wells in Menengai with three of them realising positive energy out put estimated at about 23 megawatts.

Kenya is going big on geothermal energy to cut its energy costs. The country has potential to produce 7,000 megawatts and is targeting production of at least 5,000 megawatts of geothermal power by 2030.

Development of cheaper geothermal power means the country has to rely on less thermal electricity that is prone to the vagaries of high international prices, and rain-fed hydroelectric dams.
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Energy from geothermal sources is relatively cheaper than that from fossil sources, and available in huge natural reservoirs in the Rift Valley region.