KenGen to commission Olkaria V next month

One of the wells awaiting exploitation at the Olkaria Geothermal field in Naivasha. The Kenya’s Geothermal Development Company is drilling 10 new wells in the Olkaria area to generate steam that will add an extra 140MW (megawatts) into the national grid.

Construction work for the 158-megawatt Olkaria V geothermal power project will begin next month, Energy PS Joseph Njoroge has said.

State owned power producer KenGen is putting up the project at a cost of Sh40 billion, mainly funded by the Japan International Co-operation Agency.

Njoroge said the government received the funds for the project last month..“ We should be breaking ground in May because most of the funding has been obtained. We have received funds from various sources. We have got funds from JICA, the main funding agent,” Njoroge told journalists in Nairobi.The project is part of the 720MW that KenGen is targeting to generate by 2020 at an estimated cost of about Sh206.24 billion. This is comprised of 631MW from its geothermal fields in Naivasha at an estimated cost of Sh183.95 billion and 90MW from wind farms in Meru ( 80 MW) and Ngong ( 10 MW) at a cost of Sh17.29 billion.

“We have made good progress,” Njoroge said.The government has also resolved a bitter dispute over compensation with local community. Residents of Olkaria, Naivasha, protested in January, demanding 50 per cent representation in the project’s stakeholders co-ordination committee. “We have addressed all these challenges so what we are focused on now is implementing the project,” Njoroge said.In his 2017/18 financial year budget read on March 30, Treasury CS Henry Rotich allocated Sh16.4 billion to support exploitation of geothermal, wind and solar resources, a boost to the project.

“These resources are expected to increase the clean energy mix cementing Kenya’s position as a world leader in renewable energy,” Rotich said.

Olkaria v is expected to be ready for commissioning and connection to the national electricity grid by 2019.

The Jubilee administration targets to achieve universal electricity connection by 2020.This is being accelerated by the Last Mile Connectivity Project being undertaken by Kenya Power.

At least five million households in the country have been connected to power, according to Rotich who allocated the Last Mile Connectivity project Sh9.7 billion in the next financial year.The government will also spend Sh 3.1 billion for the national street lightning programme, Sh 1.3 billion for connectivity subsidy and Sh1.53 billion for installation of solar lanterns.Sh 3 billion will be used in the installation of transformers in constituencies.Kenya Power data shows the country’s energy mix dispatched has improved from 53 per cent hydro, 25 per cent thermal and 20 per cent geothermal in June 2013 to 41 per cent hydro, 13 per cent thermal and 40 per cent geothermal as at the end of December 2016.