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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid