Kenya Aims to Make Geothermal Energy Main Power Source By 2014  

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BusinessWeek has a report on Kenya's plans for exploiting geothermal power - Kenya Aims to Make Geothermal Energy Main Power Source By 2014.

Kenya, Africa’s largest producer of geothermal power, is aiming for the energy supply to surpass hydro as the top contributor to the country’s electricity grid by 2014, said Silas Simiyu, chief executive officer of the state-owned Geothermal Development Co.

A 10-year, $2.6 billion exploration plan will involve sinking 566 wells in the Great Rift Valley, where shifting tectonic plates provide a key source of the energy, the company said in a statement yesterday. GDC is expected to begin drilling in Menengai in central Kenya this week, with an initial aim to find sufficient reserves to feed a 400-megawatt facility by 2014, Simiyu told reporters yesterday.

Over the next decade, the company aims to discover 2,336 megawatts of steam produced by hot underground rocks that boil water. The vapors are used to power turbines. Geothermal energy currently accounts for 12 percent of Kenya’s 1,405 megawatts of generation, including an installed capacity of 212 megawatts at a plant at Olkaria, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) outside of Nairobi, the capital.

“We should not see a situation of power shortages like we had before,” Simiyu said.

Drought in Kenya two years ago depleted water levels at hydropower dams, which supplies 55 percent of the country’s electricity. The resulting power rationing between August and October 2009 hindered growth in East Africa’s largest economy.

Kenya estimates the extent of its unexploited resources ranges between 7,000 megawatts and 10,000 megawatts at 14 “high- potential” locations valued at $30 billion, according to the statement.

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