News / Africa

Kenya Moves Full-Steam Ahead on Geothermal Production

Kenya is expanding plans to become one of the world’s top geothermal power producers with the start of explorations at a site called Menengai. The government is also aiming to make geothermal Kenya’s main power source.

Menengai, in Kenya’s Rift Valley, may hold the clue to boosting the country's electricity production.

Kenya is already Africa’s largest producer of geothermal power. It was the first country on the continent to drill for geothermal energy.

Last year, the International Geothermal Association ranked Kenya as the world’s 10th largest producer of geothermal power, calling the country’s potential “massive.” But that was before the first well opened at Menengai earlier this year.

Ruth Musembi, public relations manager at Kenya's Geothermal Development Company, says explorations so far are exciting.

“When you get the first well being eight megawatts, then that tells you something," she said. "The second well which has discharged - the temperatures are very high, they are almost over 300 degrees. That tells you that this is not an ordinary geothermal field. It’s going to be a major, major breakthrough for this country in terms of electricity.”

Experts estimate that the site alone contains some 1,600 megawatts, or about 300 megawatts more than Kenya’s entire energy use.

The first phase of the Menengai Geothermal Project is expected to contribute 400 megawatts to Kenya’s power grid by 2016, an increase of 30 percent.

Geothermal energy comes from the earth’s core, made up of molten rock, or magma. Temperatures there are extremely high. In some areas, the magma is closer to the earth’s surface, heating up layers of rock that contain pores of water. Some of this water rises to the surface in the form of hot springs and geysers.

Steam is trapped within the rock layers and can be accessed through drilling. The steam is then harnessed to produce electricity.

Africa’s Rift Valley is an ideal location for geothermal energy.

“Basically, you can drill for geothermal anywhere, but it will be very expensive because we’ll have to drill very far down," explained Ruth Musembi. "But in the Rift Valley, the heat has come closer to the surface, so when you drill about two-and-a-half [or] three kilometers, you are able to get the heat source. In other places, probably you will go many kilometers.”

Kenya’s Rift Valley contains 14 geothermal sites. Officials estimate that there are between 7,000 to 10,000 megawatts of potential geothermal energy in Kenya.

Hydro-electricity has long been Kenya’s primary power source. But massive deforestation and other factors have led to decreasing rainfalls and the drying up of rivers and lakes, making hydroelectric power less of an option.

Kenyan Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka told a recent conference in Nairobi that increasing the use of geothermal power is key to Kenya’s development.

“Power produced from geothermal resources is a sure means of improving our peoples’ quality of life," he said. "Besides, with the Kenya Vision 2030 angling for an industrialized economy, novel sources of electric energy must be found in order to power factories and processing lines.”

Currently, more than 80 percent of Kenya’s population does not have access to electricity.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid