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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid