NAIROBI, KENYA, FEB 16 — Construction of the 158 Megawatt Olkaria V geothermal power plant in Naivasha is on schedule and will be completed on time ready for operation next year, the Kenya Electricity Generating Company has said.
The power plant is part of KenGen’s ambitious green energy development agenda aimed at delivering 721MW of renewable energy by year 2020, at an investment close to USD 1.33 billion(about Ksh135 billion).
President Uhuru Kenyatta officially broke ground for construction of the Olkaria V power project in April last year. The project is funded by Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) and the Government of Kenya.
Speaking during a media tour of the project on Thursday, KenGen managing director and CEO Rebecca Miano said the power plant and several other green energy projects at different stages of procurement will ensure Kenyans benefit directly from reliable, clean and affordable electricity.
“Our focus is on geothermal energy, which is an eco-friendly, renewable and reliable source that can reduce consumers’ utility costs by up to 50 per cent,” she said.
Miano disclosed that manufacturing of the plant’s equipment abroad, mainly in Japan and Germany, is on schedule with several equipment already tested in readiness for shipment to Kenya. These include hotwell pumps, vacuum pumps, switch gear and steam pipes.
The plant involves construction of two power generating units, each with a capacity of 83MW. The first unit is expected to be ready by March 2019 with the second unit becoming operational in June.
“A substantial portion of the materials to be incorporated in this project have been sourced locally. These include cement and concrete materials, all reinforcement steel bars, steel beams, all fencing materials,” Miano said, adding that all expertise for civil and structural works are handled by local experts.
All earth works at the project site are complete and the main activity in progress is subsurface ground stabilization by pilling to create a strong foundation.
The next site activity will be construction of concrete foundations for erecting the power house and mounting the generation equipment.
Olkaria V is a Vision 2030 flagship energy project started with the drilling of the geothermal wells to supply the steam to drive the turbines which in turn generate electricity.
KenGen plans to connect its 30MW capacity well to Olkaria V, the largest single well in Africa.
The drilling of the geothermal wells to supply sufficient steam to run the power plant over its lifespan was completed in 2015.
The power plant’s contractors were procured through international competitive bidding (ICB) using JICA guidelines.
The three contactors are M/s Sinopec Petroleum Services of China (Steam Development); a Japanese consortium comprising of Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems and Mitsubishi Corporation; and H Young of Kenya (Power Plant); and JV of Sieyuan and NEIE (both of China).
Consultancy Services, fully financed by KenGen, was awarded to a consortium of Steam srl (Italy) and Gesto AG (Portugal).
Olkaria V is part of the company’s revamped Good-to-Great (G2G) strategy, which seeks to diversify and grow its power generation portfolio.
KenGen’s current installed capacity is 1,631 MW and comprises hydro, thermal, geothermal and wind.
The assurance by KenGen that it is on track to delivering on the project should give electricity consumers comfort that they will be cushioned against impact of weather vagaries on the domestic and industrial commodity.
The drought has seen water levels at KenGen hydro power plants fall below the minimum operating level.
Unless the country receives sufficient amount of rainfall in the next few weeks, the company will be forced to shut down its hydro power stations, especially the ones in the Eastern region which draw their water from River Tana.
The river supplies water to Masinga, Kindaruma, Gitaru, Kiambere power plants.
The current weather forecast indicates that Tana catchment is most likely to experience depressed rainfall while the catchments for Turkwel and Sondu Rivers, which serves Turkwel and Sondu Miriu power plants are most likely to receive near average rainfall.
Mrs. Miano however said there is no cause for alarm as the generator is scaling up geothermal and wind energy sources to offset the deficit that will be created by closure of the dams.
Other green energy development projects at different stages of procurement being undertaken by the energy generator are Olkaria I Unit 6, 70MW, Ngong Wind Phase III 10MW, Olkaria VI PPP 140MW, Olkaria I Rehabilitation 50MW, Olkaria I AU and IV topping plant 40MW, Modular wellheads 50MW and Meru Wind Farm 80MW among others.