Africa’s top geothermal utility seeks $2bn to boost output

19th May 2021 By: Bloomberg

Kenya Electricity Generating Co, Africa’s geothermal pioneer, plans to raise $1.95-billion to build new, and upgrade existing plants in a bid to almost double its power output from the renewable fuel.

KenGen, as the Kenyan State-owned company is known, plans to add 651 MW from underground steam in the next five years, said Cyrus Karingithi, an assistant manager for resource development and infrastructure. Most of the funds will be sought from development financiers, Karingithi said in an interview on Tuesday at a geothermal field located about 120 km northwest of the capital Nairobi.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is pushing investors to tap Kenya’s vast geothermal resources with a goal to switch completely to renewable energy to generate electricity for the nation’s grid, from about 90% currently. Kenyatta said at President Joe Biden’s climate summit last month that there are “huge investment opportunities” in his country’s steam power given just a fraction of the resource is being used.

KenGen plans to build four new 140 MW steam-power plants each, including a project to be delivered as a public-private partnership, according to Karingithi. Steam wells have already been drilled at two of the planned facilities. The company also plans to upgrade some projects to add 66 megawatts and to deliver another 25 megawatts from wellheads, mobile generating plants, at the Eburru field.

KenGen is able to generate 1 803 MW of Kenya’s total installed capacity of 2 892 MW. Of that, 705.5 MW is geothermal energy produced by the company.