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Olkaria geothermal power plant | Coastweek

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The Olkaria geothermal power plant is seen in Rift Valley Province of Kenya. About 33 steam wells have been drilled in Kenya since the exploitation of geothermal energy began in 1981. Kenyan has the potential geothermal of 7,000 megawatts. XINHUA PHOTO - ZHAO YINGQUAN

AfDB approve U.S. $145 million loan for Kenya-Tanzania power

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) has approved 144.9 million U.S. dollar loan to the Kenya and Tanzania interconnected power project.

The African bank said the Kenya-Tanzania Power Interconnection Project which will allow the two countries to exchange power plays an important role in promoting regional integration through power trade.

Director of the AfDB’s Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department Alex Rugamba said the project aligns with the pillars of the regional integration strategy papers (RISPs) for Eastern Africa, which focus on regional infrastructure and capacity building.

"It also fulfills the objectives of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) in terms of regional integration and promotion of infrastructure development through regional co- operation in key productive sectors such as energy," Rugamba said in a statement received in Nairobi.

He also added that the interconnection line will create competitiveness in the energy sector and will encourage private sector investing in the generation of electricity by facilitating power transfer through the interconnector.

The project is expected to improve the supply, reliability and affordability of electricity in the Eastern Africa region through cross-border exchanges of cheap and cleaner surplus power from neighbouring countries.

The project involves the construction of about 508 km of transmission line between Kenya and Tanzania (about 93 km in Kenya and 415 km in Tanzania) and associated substations in Arusha and Singida (Tanzania).

The line will have a transfer capacity of up to 2,000 MW in either direction.

The Ethiopia-Kenya interconnection line will allow for the interconnection of the Eastern Africa Power Pool to the Southern African Power Pool and further in the future to Northern Africa through the East Africa Electricity highway.

At its initial stage, the project will allow Ethiopia and Kenya to exchange power, followed by the import and export of energy from the interconnected countries.


UNEP to help East Africa tap 500 MW of geothermal in five years

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) will assist six East Africa states to tap 500 MW of geothermal power in the next five years.

Programme Manager for the UNEP’s African Rift Geothermal Development Facility Meseret Zemedkun told Xinhua in Nairobi that it has set aside 4.7 million U.S. dollars to catalyze the growth of geothermal power in the region.

"Our role will be to assist national governments to identify the exact location of their geothermal resources as well mitigate risks associated with exploration," Zemedkum said on the sidelines of the workshop on the Women Entrepreneurship in Renewable Energy Project.

The beneficiaries’ country of geothermal power will include Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda.

Kenya has so far utilized over 280 MW of geothermal power.

The rest of the nations are yet to tap into the renewable energy power. The East Africa Rift System has an estimated potential of 20,000 MW with Kenya alone having 7,000 MW.

Zemedkum said geothermal also has direct use application in the agricultural and acquaculture fields, adding that geothermal, unlike other sources of power, is indigenous and never gets depleted.

The UNEP official said the resource has a high degree of availability compared to other renewable sources of energy such as hydropower and solar power.

Experts said the region’s energy poverty remains an obstacle to economic and human development.

The program manager urged regional governments to put in place adequate policies that will attract private sector funding into the sector.


Kenya power records six months pre tax profit of U.S. $70.4 million dollars

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s sole power distributor Kenya Power has announced a profit before tax of 70.4 million U.S. dollars for the six months ending December 2014, a 53 per cent increase compared to a similar period in 2013.

The firm’s Managing Director Ben Chumo attributed the rise mainly to increased sales revenue sales as a result of improved power supply and increase connectivity buoyed by tariff increase review last year.

"For the six months under review, the electricity revenue grew from 294 million dollars to 410 million dollars, an increase of 40 percent as a result of connecting more Kenyans to the national grid," Chumo said in a statement released in Nairobi.

He said that transmission and distribution costs also increased from 106 million dollars to 113 million dollars as a result of the expansion of the firm’s electricity network.

"This will enable us to improve the quality of the service we offer our customers," he said.

The directors have proposed an interim dividend of 0.002 dollars per share.

The firm is undertaking a capacity enhancement programme in readiness for the oncoming new power plants.

The East African nation is currently implementing an ambitious electricity expansion that will add 5,000 Megawatts of power to the national grid in the next 36 months.

Chumo said in order to absorb the new power, they are fast- tracking the ongoing construction of 29 new substations in order to enhance the transmission system.

The firm is also planning to introduce a smart metering system in order to secure its revenue by ensuring billing accuracy for the large power customers.

Currently, less than 35 percent of the population has access to electricity.

"We are accelerating the rate of connectivity throughout the country in order to grow our customer base," Chumo said, adding that plans are at advanced stages to construct alternative power lines so as to ensure there is uninterrupted power supply in the country.

He said power purchase costs (excluding fuel and foreign exchange costs) increased from 150 million dollars to 220 million dollars due to absorption of additional generation capacity and increase in energy charges.

"We increased our power purchase units to 4,320 GWh from 4,093 GWh in a similar period under review," Chumo said.

He said due to the lower than expected rainfall received in the short rain period of October to December 2014, hydro generation was affected resulting in the use of additional power from thermal generation.

"This saw the fuel cost, which is a pass-through component, increased by 9.8 million dollars to 189 million dollars for the period under review.

"However, the overall cost which would have been higher was mitigated by increase in geothermal generation," he said.

Kenya’s electricity cost set to stabilise with addition of 140MW

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s electricity cost is set to drop after the country’s power producer announced plans to inaugurate the 140MW Olkaria 1 power plant, the last phase of the 280 MW of Olkaria geothermal power.

Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) said the addition of 140MW later this week is expected to further stabilise the cost of electricity in the country.

"KenGen is proud to be on the lead in moving the country towards self sufficiency of reliable and affordable and renewable source of energy, which is also available almost 24/7," KenGen’s CEO Engineer Albert Mugo told journalists late Monday.

He said the cost of electricity has reduced marginally since the addition to the national grid of about 280MW geothermal power as the fuel cost charge has reduced by 65 percent.

Mugo said President Uhuru Kenyatta will be joined by his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame in presiding over the historic event among other regional leaders.

He said following the addition to the national grid of 280 MW geothermal power, the cost of fuel cost component, the single biggest item on the bills, has fallen from 0.09 U.S. dollars per kilowatt hours (kWh) in August 2014 when the first unit of the 280MW project started injecting to the national grid, to a low of 0.03 dollars in February.

"This represents a 65 per cent drop in the fuel cost component.

"As a result, it has led to a decline in the overall cost of power to consumers," he said, noting that the Mugo said the full effect of it has already reflected in the power bills.

The Olkaria 280MW project comprises the 140MW Olkaria IV and the Olkaria I units 4 and 5 each with a capacity of 70MW.

The 280MW which has been running since December 2014 and stable on the grid has helped reduce the cost of power by displacing the expensive thermal fuel.

This, Mugo said, has also helped stabilise the country’s power supply by reducing dependence on hydro, which is prone to weather variations.

According to KenGen, geothermal power accounted for 51 per cent of electricity bought by households and businesses in December, from 14 per cent in the same month in 2013.

Thermal sources or those powered by medium speed diesel and heavy fuel oil accounted for 21 percent and is the third highest source of electricity.

Currently, the company is injecting 1,575 MW to the national grid, with geothermal for the fourth month in a row surpassing hydro as the main source the electricity and helped avert power shortages at a time when rains have failed for the better part of last year and into the new year.



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