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Published on March 27th, 2013 | by Jake Richardson

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Kenyan Ambassador To Speak At New York Geothermal Conference

March 27th, 2013 by  



Elkanah Odembo is Kenya’s ambassador to the United States. (Before taking on this role he worked in philanthropy and social responsibility). On April 11 in New York City at the U.S. and International Geothermal Energy Finance Forum he will be giving a speech about the importance of geothermal development in Kenya. By 2030, there could be as many as 5,000 MW of geothermal power plants in operation.

Image Credit: Magnus Manske

Image Credit: Magnus Manske

The one day gathering in NYC will feature updates on geothermal technology, financing new power plants, public and private sector perspectives, practical project management insights, risks and rewards and government policies.

Kenya’s geothermal power potential is at least 7,000 MW and there are over a dozen development projects in some stage of design. Though the development of about 5,000 MW of clean energy may not seem that monumental, it should be noted that currently less than 20% of Kenyans have access to electricity. (At the moment, geothermal provides about 13% of Kenya’s electricity and by 2020, that percentage could be 30.)

Another important point is that burning wood is a major source of energy in Kenya – primarily for cooking – and this prevalent practice results in much deforestation and CO2 emissions.  Deforestation reduces rainfall, which further reduces the number of trees and other plants that constitute forests, so there is a vicious cycle culminating in droughts, and loss of biodiversity.

Wild animals and beautiful natural landscapes are a huge draw for foreign tourists and there may be as many as 100,000 Kenyans employed by the tourist industry or in related jobs. If biodiversity declines, the impact on the national economy could be significant. So, geothermal development is not only about clean energy, it also could become a way of reducing the burning of wood fuel and therefore help conserve forests and biodiversity.

‘Ambassador Odembo represents a country that is working in sync with organizations like the World Bank to fulfill its electricity needs with clean and renewable geothermal energy,’ said GEA Executive Director Karl Gawell. The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) is made up of U.S. companies who support  geothermal energy and are developing geothermal facilities around the world for clean, renewable energy production.

Odembo’ undergraduate degree is in Biology and Sociology, and he has a Master’s in public health. 
 





 

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