Electricity Cost Decreases By 30% In Kenya Due To Geothermal

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Lately, the news out of Kenya about its electricity situation has been quite positive. Electricity costs for both consumer and industrial customers have decreased by about 30%. You can imagine how advantageous it is for a nation to lower its electricity costs so much. In fact, one estimate pegged Kenya’s savings at $24 million per month.


The reason for the favorable shift is the country’s consistent investment in geothermal energy. Geothermal activity in Kenya is abundant, so it makes very good sense to develop more geothermal power there. Recently, two new plants were commissioned in the Rift Valley, which boosted the country’s geothermal capacity significantly. They are located at Olkaria, which is northwest of Nairobi and this area has an estimated 2,000 MW of geothermal potential.

It isn’t surprising that developing domestic renewable energy sources has significant benefits, “I have seen first-hand how getting affordable electricity to ordinary Kenyans can transform lives. Kids can learn at school and do homework at night. Businesses can flourish and create new jobs. That’s why we are investing in the energy sector, which is a key infrastructure investment in the fight against poverty,” explained the World Bank’s country director for Kenya.

Kenya is not stopping where it is though: by 2018 another 460 MW of geothermal may be developed. If it achieves this goal, the amount of electricity generated by hydro power could be reduced to 28% of the total mix. Decreasing the country’s reliance on hydro power would likely be beneficial, because lower rain levels have decreased hydro power output. Drought can be a big problem when it occurs because river flows reduce to a trickle as does electricity from hydro power. Climate change is believed by some to intensify weather like droughts, so shifting away from hydro power is probably a good decision.

Geothermal electricity tends to remain very stable and is available constantly.

Image Credit: Lydur Skulason, Wiki Commons

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Jake Richardson

Hello, I have been writing online for some time, and enjoy the outdoors. If you like, you can follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JakeRsol

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15 thoughts on “Electricity Cost Decreases By 30% In Kenya Due To Geothermal

  • I know geothermal doesn’t receive as much attention as it deserves, but posting two identical articles one after the other might not be the best way to rectifiy that 😉

    • I find it abhorrent that Geothermal isn’t getting more attention.
      It is the single best renewable energy source that trumps any other.
      Mind you, solar and wind ARE more than viable, but on a commercial level, they occupy large swaths of surface area (although, we should be using EXISTING areas such as house roofs, residential buildings, etc. – plus, solar CAN be designed to generate energy during the night – inclined roofs would benefit from panels, while flat based roofs would be better off using parabolic trough CSP which is far more efficient than panels, costs less and occupies less space).

      At any rate, Geothermal doesn’t need high volcanic activity.
      It can be extracted from anywhere in the world, if you dig deep enough.
      Drills and internal hardware made from synthetic diamonds alone can accomplish this (and we’ve been producing synthetic diamonds since 1950-ies).
      Today, we can combine both synthetic diamond drills and lasers to dig deep into the Earth for Geothermal energy.
      The problem with the internal hardware not being able to withstand large temperatures the further down you go can be avoided if its coated or designed to incorporate synthetic diamonds and in general materials which can withstand these temperatures – you’d be an idiot to make a synthetic diamond drill, only for the internal hardware to be made of cheap silicon that melts at 150 degrees C… seriously, diamonds are good, but if you are doing something like that, then EVERYTHING needs to reflect the material capabilities in question).

      Current technology can allow us to tap close to 2000 Zettajoules of Geothermal energy in the Earth (which would last us 4000 years).
      By comparison, civilization as we know it uses about 0.5 Zettajoules per year.
      But if you take into account that 1 third of the globe doesn’t have electricity, you’d probably have to raise that estimate to about 0.75 Zettajoules… heck, let’s raise it to 1 Zettajoules per year for good measure.
      We can easily tap into this much power and we’d have access to both electricity and heat… plus with an absurdly large amount of energy leftover for scientific experiments.
      That’s just from 1 Zettajoule of Geothermal power. Imagine what we can accomplish from tapping into 2000 Zettajoules.
      We can play with converting energy into matter.

      It’s more than doable.

      • In reality solar is just cheaper than geothermal. Drilling is expensive.
        Something to back up your claims would go a long way.

    • Get duplication stories every week now, normally more than one. Looks like no editor review before post, and the posting authors are not looking to see if someone else already posted the story.

      • Except in this case it is the same author on both stories. Are they getting paid by clicks on the article? So two different titles to attract different readers?

  • This is hydrogeothermal, where volcanism heats up underground water reservoirs at a fairly shallow depth. The Rift Valley is an active tectonic zone (the continent is slowly splitting apart along it), and it extends over thousands of miles. Five other countries besides Kenya probably or certainly have substantial geothermal resources.

    “Climate change is believed by some to intensify weather like droughts.” Rewrite: “The overwhelming consensus among experts is that human-driven global warming is leading to more weather extremes, including droughts.”

  • Does Kenya also have a Solar or Wind advantage?

    • Solar insolation seems excellent (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insolation#mediaviewer/File:SolarGIS-Solar-map-Africa-and-Middle-East-en.png) especially in western parts. Not sure if high average population density would be problematic, possibly not since it varies a lot. I do not remember seeing much commentary on wind, except to say that typically coastal areas are typically better in Africa; so probably wind would also work if necessary, with same caveats about procuring land.

      So I suspect that they can actually choose from multiple viable renewable energy sources which is great.

      • Here are a couple of maps I found. The second is for all land areas used to put Africa in perspective with the rest of the world. The first is specific to Africa.

        • Somalia, Greenland, Patagonia and Tibet are the go-to locations, clearly. Somalia is an interesting test case for libertarian economics, as it doesn’t have a working government. It does have mobile phone services, possibly because you can’t run a warlord militia or terrorist gang these days without them. My uninformed guess is that rooftop solar is more compatible with anarchy than big wind turbines.

          • Who runs the Somali phone system? And how do they keep it from being taken over or looted by some warlord?

      • Even Kenya needs solar for off-grid. The huge amount of despatchable geothermal available means that integrating grid-connected solar would not be a problem. But it might not be the cheapest source anyway; depends on the daily load pattern.

  • The most pressing question for me in all this:
    Where is coal? – wasn’t it supposed to bring cheaper energy to all the poor in undeveloped countries?

    • Does Kenya even have any coal?

      • Yes, though as in most of Africa reserves aren’t that large.

        Concessions for new mines in Kenya were auctioned in 2013, with most going to a Chinese miner. The government plans for 2GW of coal fired power.

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