Abu Dhabi-based International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) has ranked Kenya as the seventh-largest geothermal energy producer in the world. This ranking is attributed to the strategic efforts and top notch technology employed by Sub Saharan Africa’s top geothermal Energy production firm -KenGen. According to the ranking, Kenya’s total geothermal energy capacity stands at a total of 823 megawatts (MW) or thereabouts. The ranking places Kenya above many first world countries such as Italy.
The journey for catching up with countries such as Italy attests to impressive management and focus that KenGen has in place for the country of Kenya . In 2019 KenGen announced the completion of Olkaria V which added approximately 165MW to Kenya’s total geothermal energy pool.
Compared to the country of Italy, Kenya’s expansion of its geothermal reserves over the last ten years has been nothing short of immaculate. In 2010 Kenya had only 198MW whereas Italy who are the pioneers of geothermal energy production technology produced about 728MW.
This announcement is a major boost for Kenya’s efforts to produce clean energy if not to meet Goal seven of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that urges countries to increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030.
With the current trend in KenGen’s geothermal development as for example the Commissioning of Olkaria VI geothermal power plant, experts expect Kenya to soon joins the elite 1000MW Club made up of four countries including the United States.
Kenya constructed its first geothermal plant (the Olkaria 1) in 1981. However, in 1997 KenGen took over electricity production from Kenya Power. In 2018 Kenya was ranked ninth in geothermal production nonetheless in 2019, Kenya steamed ahead to leapfrog Iceland to position eight and has now pulled a similar coup on Italy.
Reportedly, Geothermal now accounts for 30% of Kenya’s total installed power capacity of 2,700MW with hydro, wind, solar and thermal power making up for 70% of the total energy pool.
United States is the world’s top geothermal producer with an installed capacity of 2,555 MW though the country’s stock has recently been on a decline. Ethiopia is the only other African country with producing power from Geothermal energy but its 7MW is nothing compared to KenGen’s Olkaria power plants.