What you need to know:
- The completion of Olkaria V unit 1 and 2 will bring the capacity of the Olkaria geothermal power plants to 570MW.
- Japan will work closely with Kenya to develop power that is critical to social and economic development.
During my first tour of duty as a young man in the diplomatic service many years ago, I was struck by the number of Japanese cars on Kenyan roads.
Since coming back to Kenya as the ambassador last year, I have noted that the Japanese auto industry has held its place.
Every morning and evening driving to and from work in the busy Nairobi traffic presents a veritable sea of Japanese cars of all makes, models and sizes.
The situation is the same in the rest of the world as four Japanese firms ranked in the top 10 world automobile sellers last year.
The success of the Japanese automotive industry presents the most visible example of the confidence its technology enjoys across the globe.
The auto industry’s dominance is clearly visible to everybody, but there are other Japanese products equally popular.
One area that might not be as visible as cars is in the turbines used in geothermal power generation.
While Kenya is one of the world’s leading producers of geothermal power, we are proud that this success has come in collaboration with Japanese companies that supply most of the turbines.
Japan commands a 70 per cent share of the global market for these very special turbines critical to a source of energy that is second to none in being environment friendly.
President Uhuru Kenyatta recently officiated the ground-breaking ceremony for the Japan-sponsored Olkaria V Unit 1 and 2 geothermal project in Naivasha, which will add 158MW to the national grid.
It will help to cement Kenya’s place as one of the top seven geothermal energy producers in the world.
Japan is proud to be a partner in this success story, a partnership that dates back to 1981, with Olkaria I unit 1.
The completion of Olkaria V unit 1 and 2 will bring the capacity of the Olkaria geothermal power plants to 570MW, some 80 per cent of the total output.
One remarkable fact is that Olkaria I unit 1-3 started operating 36 years ago and is still generating power on the same set of Japanese turbines.
It fills me with pride that companies from my country have played such important roles in this success story of geothermal power.
They have manufactured and installed high quality, enduring and cost-effective power plants.
As Olkaria I proves, the real quality and reliability of such products can only be seen when they have actually been used for decades without major interruptions.
Olkaria V, which is also utilising Japanese high technology, will continue serving Kenya’s energy needs for decades to come.
Low-carbon Japanese geothermal power generating technology realises a green and clean source of energy in Kenya.
Today, geothermal power accounts for 30 per cent of Kenya’s total power generation capacity.
Such technology is also reflected in the success of the automobile industry.
The cars on Kenyan roads are also very efficient, with low carbon emissions.
These Japanese technologies have been making and will continuously make their own important contribution to keeping the air clean over the beautiful skies over Nairobi and the rest of the country as well as creating a beautiful and bright future for Kenya.
When Kenya hosted the Sixth Edition of Tokyo International Conference on African Development (Ticad VI) last August, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed support for investment in geothermal and other renewable energy resources critical to meeting the increasing power demand in Africa.
Japan will work closely with Kenya to develop power that is not only critical to social and economic development; but also clean energy that assures the health of the nation for generations to come.
Mr Uesawa is the Japanese ambassador to Kenya