Like many developing countries with a surging economy and population, Kenya is finding its energy supply increasingly tight. Currently, electric supply capacity is close to its limit at 1,080 MW when peak hour demand reaches nearly 1,000 MW, according to AFP. Though coal is the cheapest option for boosting supply, Kenya is also looking to further tap into its substantial geothermal resources to meet demand. Near the town of Naivasha, northwest of Nairobi, underground hot water sources and steam at 300 degrees Celsius can be piped up the surface from up two kilometers (6,500 feet) below and turned into electricity.
President Mwai Kibaki recently announced a plan to produce an extra 2,000 megawatts within 10 years, with 85 percent (1,700 MW) to come from geothermal plants. At the country's main Ol Karia plant, near Naivasha, engineers and experts are discussing prospection and drilling plans.
"Because geothermal energy is our only indigenous source of energy, we're going for it. We can supply Kenya's entire needs with geothermal alone," Silas Simiyu, who works at Ol Karia, says.
he major drawback of geothermal energy is the size of the initial investment. One MW of geothermal-produced electricity costs around three million dollars, 30 percent more than what coal-powered plants produce. Kenya's geothermal energy plan is being supported with donations and preferential loans from the World Bank and German government. :: Via AFP
Exploring Southeast Asia's Geothermal Potential
Jargon Watch: Geothermal vs Ground Source Heat Pump
Is Geothermal Energy the Way of the Future?