KenGen scored a double win at the prestigious East African Power Industry Awards gala in Nairobi when the company was voted best in East Africa in the categories of Excellence in Power Generation and Outstanding Clean Power Project Award. Bot awards are in recognition for the 280MW Olkaria Geothermal Expansion Project.
The awards which honour outstanding power industry professionals, projects and companies in the East African region were awarded at a colorful dinner gala held on Thursday evening in a Nairobi City hotel. As an excellent power producer, judges based on the impact created by the 280MW project and the effort that went into making the project happen.
The Olkaria 280MW which came online in December comprises the 140MW Olkaria IV and the Olkaria 1 units 4 and 5 each with a capacity of 70MW. This project has helped the country save billions each month by displacing an equivalent amount of thermal electricity generation that use costly fossil fuels in favour of the much cheaper electricity from geothermal.
“The final piece in one of the largest geothermal power projects in the world. Making Kenya rise among the top ten world leaders in geothermal energy and significantly contributing to bringing down the cost of power in Kenya by directly offsetting thermal based generation. The 280MW is an excellent project,” said the judges.
The win is a double score for KenGen this year. In May, during this year’s Africa Utilities’ Awards, KenGen won two Continental awards after it was voted Africa’s Best Energy Company in a survey featuring major utilities across the continent. Additionally, the 280MW – KenGen’s flagship vision 2030 project and the world’s single largest geothermal project was voted best Clean Energy Project during the same awards. These awards showcase projects that are solving Africa’s energy challenges. The awards attracted the worthy notice and congratulations from His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta. Earlier this year, in his speech at the inauguration of the Olkaria I Units 4&5 power plant, His Excellency the President applauded KenGen as the bedrock of Powering Freedom for Kenya. No doubt, KenGen has made an undeniable contribution to the stellar national economic performance.
This year, Kenya was rated as the third fastest growing economy in the world among developing economies. The February Issue of the Fortune Magazine has also recognized Kenya as the best African emerging economy to invest in and 7th best investment destination in emerging global markets alongside India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Mexico, Poland and Colombia. All this has been underpinned by developments in infrastructure led by the power industry.
Last December, KenGen connected two plants – Olkaria I unit 4& 5 and 140MW Olkaria IV to the national grid, paving the way for the project to feed the national grid in what is seen as a major step toward significantly lowering the cost of electricity in the country. This project- which is the largest single geothermal investment in the world, said the judges, was a major milestone.
“A major milestone was achieved on the 280MW project when the additional geothermal power has helped cut electricity bills by about 30% since August 2014 following a 65% drop in the fuel surcharge to stabilize at just over Sh2.50 per kWh lately. Power economists say the project has enable savings amounting to Sh.2.2 billion monthly.
KenGen is Kenya’s biggest power producer, producing 1,595megawatts (MW) or 75 % of national installed capacity. The company has also lined up a mix of sustainable projects led by geothermal sources. The company plans to add a further 480MW to the national grid by 2017, being its contribution to the Government’s 5,000MW+ program.
Over the past year, KenGen has achieved several milestones, including consolidating its market share to 74%. The 280MW, which has been running since last December is a score for KenGen and the country, having helped, displaced a similar amount of the expensive thermal power from the grid. Additionally, the plant has moved the country up the geothermal ladder globally. KenGen’s geothermal capacity has increased four-fold to the current level of 470MW, while Kenya is now the world’s eighth largest supplier of geothermal energy, with 585MW of installed capacity (this represents five per cent of the total global geothermal production).
Geothermal has surpassed hydro as the main source of electricity since December 2014, thereby removing the need for rationing electricity in times of drought. Geothermal is no doubt reducing fuel imports which is improving the performance of the Kenya Shilling against international currencies. Additional geothermal power is set to do more good for this nation and KenGen is at the forefront of these laudable efforts.