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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
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.

AppleAndroid