Expanding Kenya's Geothermal Power Potential

Phase I of the Olkaria III geothermal power plant in Naivasha, Kenya
Phase I of the Olkaria III geothermal power plant in Naivasha, Kenya.

The Olkaria III geothermal power plant in Naivasha, Kenya first began delivering power to the East African nation in August 2000. At that time it provided a modest 13 megawatts of clean electricity. Then, in January 2009, a second phase was brought online, providing an additional 35 megawatts. Now, plans are on the drawing-board to more than double current output to a full 100 megawatts.

Ormat Technologies, the developer and owner of Olkaria III, funded phase I of the plant with its own equity. Once phase II went into operation, the company refinanced the project through a secured loan arranged by Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH with a group of European development finance institutions. The anticipated upgrades will be made within the framework of the existing Power Purchase Agreement with Kenya Power & Lighting Co. Ltd, subject to approval by Kenyan government agencies and the lenders who financed the existing power plant.

If Ormat obtains all necessary approvals, the first phase of the upgrades will take about three and a half years to complete and add 36 megawatts to the output of the existing operation. The second phase will take a further four and a half years, and will add a another 16 megawatts, bringing the total output up to a full 100 megawatts.

Commenting on the potential benefits of the project, Dita Bronicki, Chief Executive Officer of Ormat Technologies said, “We are excited about the opportunity to leverage the success of the existing power plant and are looking forward to working with KPLC on this project. We expect that contractual documents on the amendment to the PPA will be completed in the near future. Kenya is a proven and significant resource for geothermal energy, and it is our belief that the proposed expansion will provide Kenya with much needed renewable, dependable and cost-effective electricity.”

Ormat Technologies’ primary focus is on geothermal and recovered energy power generation. Over the past 40 years and more, the company has built a portfolio in excess of 1200 megawatts of power production, both for itself and for third-party utilities and developers around the world.

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