The Olkaria geothermal project should be completed by 2014 and generate 280 MW of electricity for Kenya. The nearly one-billion-dollar project is owned by the Kenya Electricity Generating Company, but 280 MW is not the full potential of the site. The Olkaria complex has a geothermal potential of 560 MW, according to a research study.
Kenya currently produces about 13 percent of its electricity from geothermal, which is 150 MW. Adding 280 MW will be a real boon, because hydroelectric is one of the country’s main energy sources, but during times of drought, the electricity output wanes significantly. (Kenya Electricity Generating Company, or KenGen, wants to generate about half of its electricity from geothermal by 2018.)
Geothermal is relatively stable, so it should be quite beneficial when the new plant is finished. Kenya’s total geothermal potential has been estimated at 7,000 MW. 5,000 MW of geothermal by 2030 has been identified as a goal by one source.
Obviously, any country that can develop stable and independent energy sources stands a good chance of growing its national economy in a constructive manner. Real estate development based on the extra electricity is an obvious offshoot. About 60% of Kenya’s economy is tied to tourism, so development of clean energy sources is an excellent way to protect the natural resources that draw many foreign visitors each year. There were nearly 1.1 million in 2010.
Kenya’s population is about 41 million, with a growth rate of approximately 2.7%. Per capita income tripled from 1975 to 2006.
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