Uhuru launches 86MW geothermal plant

Uhuru Kenyatta

President Kenyatta, Energy CS Monicah Juma (left), KenGen MD Rebecca Miano and Board Chairman Samson Mwathethe during the commissioning of Olkaria I Unit 6 power station yesterday. 

Photo credit: PSCU

Kenya has moved up in the ranks of global geothermal development powerhouses following the commissioning of another power plant that will inject 86MW into the national grid.

Yesterday, President Uhuru Kenyatta officially commissioned Unit 6 of Olkaria 1 in Naivasha, Nakuru County.

The Renewables 2022 Global Status Report showed that Kenya developed the third largest geothermal energy capacity in the world between 2016 and 2021, growing its steam power by 0.2GW (equivalent to 200MW) in the five-year period. Turkey and Indonesia were ahead of Kenya. The Status Report indicates that in 2021, the world developed only 0.3GW (300MW) of geothermal power

President Kenyatta, while commissioning the plant whose groundbreaking was done in 2018, said that his government was committed to building a greener national energy pool.

“Clean and safe energy is increasingly becoming vital in energy development, and it is through this approach that we shall attain universal access to electricity in our nation,” he said.

The development propels KenGen’s total installed energy capacity to 1,904MW while its geothermal capacity now stands at 799MW.

The President noted that the commissioning of the power plants was aligned with the Least Cost Power Development Plan in support of the government’s Big Four Agenda. He expressed satisfaction with the country’s clean energy development milestones and noted that his government has put in place plans to ensure the country attains a 100 per cent transition to clean energy by 2030.

“Since 2013, my administration has increased electricity access from 2.3 million connections to 8.6 million by the end of June 2021, thereby achieving an electricity access rate of over 75 per cent. With 90 per cent of this coming from renewables, it is my hope that by 2030, we shall have a 100 per cent transition,” said the President.

Energy Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma said during the event that there were plans for her ministry to continue providing clean and affordable energy to the nation with a focus on countering climate change.

“The completion of this project marks another milestone in Kenya’s efforts towards achieving energy security as well as accelerating economic growth through improved energy access. It represents an important moment in our efforts to reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels and create a more sustainable future for us all,” said the CS.

KenGen Board Chairman Gen. (Rtd) Samson Mwathethe said: “Notably, the commissioning of Olkaria I Unit 6 propels us an inch closer to the geothermal gigawatt club.”

The utility’s CEO Rebecca Miano said that the company’s geothermal agenda was to increase production in line with the growing demand for power.