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13.07.2014
The statement above captions the overarching sentiment at the launch of the 140 MW Olkaria IV Geothermal Power Plant in Kenya’s Rift Valley. The event was also a demonstration of this government’s shift from the old guard (or from analogue to digital, as they would say). Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir was not quite accurate in describing the Olkaria IV power plant as the largest power plant in the world – that title is held by the Hellishei?i Power Station, with a nominal capacity of 303 MW of electricity ?.
The addition of another 243 MW from heavily priced thermal stations almost negates the comparative benefit of 140 MW recently added, as well as that of the 140 MW expected to be added by December 2014.
Multiply the capacity of the plant by the number of hours it will produce electricity for in a year by its capacity factor (which is basically the ratio of a power plant’s actual production capacity compared to its nominal production capacity). Multiply the kwh generated by the set tariff (which averages at 22 US Cents for thermal power plants, and 7 cents for geothermal power plants).
In this scenario, Kenya is generating 70% more electricity from the two Olkaria plants than it does from the three thermal stations, and at 54% less of the cost. The first analysis of Kenya Power is an examination of its actual bills from 2012 – 2013 (at which point Kenya only had 245.4 MW of geothermal energy tied to the grid).
31% of Kenya Power’s power purchase costs in 2013 were from thermal sources, including the 9.3% of thermal contribution to Kengen’s portfolio. Whether or not we can add the planned 5,000 MW to the national grid is not up for debate – the question remains how fast we can do it. Timing is important for another reason – Kenya Power has committed to pay the thermal based power stations for at least 20 years, with you, the consumer, paying the fuel costs (which are almost double what Kenya Power pays these IPPs). For Kenya Power to have a sustained reduction in the cost of power, it must not only increase cheap energy sources like geothermal, but also taper its exposure to thermal power in the short term. Truth is singular – it affords no person the privilege of making derivatives of it, nor are any diversions from it permissible. With no significant oil or gas reserves, Morocco is aiming to become a world class producer of green energy, notably with vast solar power projects in its southern desert region. Some 45 percent, or 2,090 megawatts, of the incremental production will come from solar and wind power, according to ONE, cited in Moroccan newspapers.
The North African kingdom enjoys strong links with Gulf monarchies, which invited Morocco and Jordan to join the oil rich Gulf Cooperation Council in 2011 in the midst of Arab Spring uprisings.
Rabat’s new rapprochement with the GCC led to the signing of a partnership to finance development projects in Morocco worth more than 5 billion dollars over five years.
In May, the kingdom officially launched the construction of a 160 megawatt solar power plant near the desert city of Ouarzazate.
A 150 megawatt wind farm at Taza, near the central city of Fez, is another showcase renewable energy project forming part of Morocco’s green power plans.
In 2013, world geothermal electricity-generating capacity grew 3 percent to top 11,700 megawatts across 24 countries. Geothermal power’s relatively slower growth is not due to a paucity of energy to tap. Once built, however, a geothermal power plant can generate electricity 24 hours a day with low operation and maintenance costs—importantly because there is zero fuel cost. Despite having installed more geothermal power capacity than any other country, the United States currently generates less than 1 percent of its electricity from the earth’s heat.
Indonesia is just one of about 40 countries that could get all their electricity from indigenous geothermal power—a list that includes Ecuador, Ethiopia, Iceland, Kenya, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, and Tanzania. To help address this mismatch of geothermal resources and funds, the World Bank launched its Global Geothermal Development Plan in March 2013.
A Kenya based company that distributes solar irrigation kits to local farmers could transform agricultureCultivation of the ground and harvesting of crops and handling of livestock, the primary function is the provision of food and feed.
What is the current status of Africa’s economy and its energy production and consumption? Low levels of electrification occur despite the fact that Africa is rich in energy resources.
South Africa, a unique country in Africa in terms of developing its energy resources, has the globe’s sixth largest known coal reserves and most of its electricity today is derived from burning coal.
An important meeting of African Energy Ministers took place in Johannesberg, South Africa in September 2011, to prepare for the upcoming COP 17, the 17th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to be held in Durban later that year. Most parts of Africa receive more than 300 days per year of bright sunlight, which corresponds to more than 80% of Africa’s land area receiving 2,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per square meter per year. Hydropower is another large renewable energy resource in Africa that is only being partially tapped.
It is mostly concentrated in the area of the East African Rift, a 3,700 mile long geological feature that stretches across thirteen countries from Eritrea in the north to Mozambique in the south.
Finally, Africa has tremendous potential for utilization of biomass energy, its oldest and most widely used source of energy, but to date this resource is also poorly assessed. I will conclude this brief overview of energy in Africa by quoting the Director General of IRENA, Adnan Amin.
Lack of adequate financing is obviously a major barrier to Africa’s energy and economic development.
Second, the most important and, therefore, initial question on any energy policy or project is “Who Benefits?” It is one thing to document the various resources that might be available and organize capital, but who will benefit from the extracted resources and the renewable technologies? Your comments are appreciated and provide additional context for my brief overview of what may be possible with appropriate policies and adequate financing. During last week’s largely uneventful African Union conference, Kenya and Ethiopia signed up to a major energy-sharing deal. Unfortunately, Ethiopia lives in a bad neighbourhood and its relations with its neighbouring countries are, for the most part, not very neighbourly. Until recently, Kenya was the dominant economy in the East African region, with a GDP of $20 billion. The event was dubbed as the first tangible step towards the Jubilee government’s ambitious endeavour to increase Kenya’s electricity generation mix by another 5,000 MW in less than 5 years.


The tradition has been dull launch ceremonies at which a red ribbon is cut over a stone bearing the name of the President at the time (this still happened). Kenya has the potential to generate 7 to 10 gigawatts ? (GW – that is, 1000 MW) from geothermal energy alone.
Kenya’s continued efforts in geothermal energy development will however position the country as a world leader in the adoption and commercialization of this energy source. The chart does not include non operational power plants, and only factors in the effective rather than the nominal capacity of the respective power plants (meaning the actual MW power contribution that the power plants can produce rather than their production potential when they were designed). Kenya Power buys electricity from Kengen (which partly state owned) and other IPPs at a tariff which is set for the lifetime of the project on a take or pay basis (typically for a 20 year period 5).
This demonstration will extrapolate the previous discussion on the comparative costs from thermal energy. Therefore, it stands to reason that with 243 MW of thermal power yet to be added to the grid within the next year, any power cost reduction gains made from the additional geothermal would be lost if there were to be any variation in the international cost of crude oil. Oil enjoys tranquillity (low cost) in its summer and spring months only to return to furious and vengefully brutal cold in the fall and winter months when the price shoots up. President – you have enough resources within Kenya’s renewables to power this country, but to see a dramatic reduction in power costs you must put a date on which the last thermal power plant will be connected and thereafter rapidly seek the liberalization of the distribution of electricity. The value of 65% has been selected as a conservative estimate from Gulf Power’s 83 MW project in Athi River. When not running though they are paid for the capacity i.e paid for just being there which is cheaper than having them generate from expensive thermal. A Saudi led consortium won the contract to build the complex at an estimated cost of 630 million euros. Over the life of the generator, geothermal plants are often cost-competitive with all other power sources, including fossil fuel and nuclear plants.
Iceland holds the top spot in that category, using geothermal power for 29 percent of its electricity. Nearly all of them are developing countries, where the high up-front costs of geothermal development are often prohibitive. By December, donors had come up with $115 million of the initial $500 million target to identify and fund test-drilling for promising geothermal projects in the developing world. Algeria is the largest African country by land area, while Nigeria has the largest population (174 million). Unfortunately, most of these resources remain untapped and, overall, Africa is a net energy exporter (40% in 2009).
It also has large renewable resources (solar, wind, hydropower, biomass, wave energy) that, so far, it has had little motivation to develop.
There is a critical need for resource assessment in Africa, an essential step in developing bankable renewable energy projects.
This is comparable to the numbers for the most solar-intensive parts of the best solar energy states in the U.S. Africa has a very large coastline, where wind power and wave power resources are abundant but poorly assessed and underutilized in the north and south.
With the exception of Kenya, which is one of the top 10 producers of geothermal energy in the world (250MW installed; another 280MW scheduled for commission in 2014) geothermal exploration and development has been limited.
We need to recognize that Africa is a rich continent, but too often we have focused on the crises and the problems.
Furthermore, we can not simply copy our energy and distribution systems from the rich countries, but have to be open to other kind of solutions. Ethiopia, with its mountainous regions and rivers, is an ideal site for hydro-electricity generation, and it is in the process of building a number of dams for this purpose, with a total potential output of 45,000MW. The country has been at war with its northern neighbour, Eritrea, on and off, for many years. However, this government also treated Kenyans to the pomp and flair of large screens, on-stage conversations and banter between the deputy and the President, as well plenty of Facebook photos of him doing presidential things, as new age democracy demands. The demonstration of the government’s continued support of the energy sector and electricity sub sector is an important indicator for both local and foreign private investor companies (called Independent Power Producers or IPPs).
For that, we have the efforts of both the Kibaki and Uhuru administrations to thank (though the Olkaria IV project is largely attributable to the efforts of Kengen under the Kibaki administration owing to the fact that the feasibility study for the project was completed in August 2009 ?).
We will look at some key questions that I feel should have been addressed by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), Kenya Power and the Ministry of Energy.
The values used are those reported by Kenya Power as at June 2013, and they do not include any off-grid power stations or emergency power generation units, which are largely thermal based (thermal power stations are those power plants which generate electricity by burning fuels such as diesel and heavy fuel oil to produce electricity). This in effect means that Kenya Power has an obligation to pay all power producers for electricity generated whether or not the company needs the power produced, or more likely, if the grid cannot absorb the power generated.
Cut off the chains from the unnecessary monstrosity that is thermally generated electricity and you can finally deliver freedom to an industry and a people that are desperately ready for such a revolutionary stand. You will notice the thermal plants are situated next to large industries (Gulf power in Athi-River = cement + steel manufacturers) …for voltage stabilization during the peak hours. Regardless of the thermal power applications for peak loads and voltage stabilization and indeed their need at industrial centers with high voltage demand (Thika and Athi River) is a valid point (p.s. But unlike the relative ease of measuring wind speed and solar radiation, test-drilling to assess deep heat resources prior to building a geothermal power plant is uncertain and costly.
This is true even without considering the many indirect costs of fossil- and nuclear-generated electricity that are not reflected in customers’ monthly bills. Close behind is El Salvador, where one quarter of electricity comes from geothermal plants. The Bank hopes that the experience gained from these projects will lead to lower costs for the geothermal industry overall. It is a continent with serious problems as well as significant potential for addressing many of these problems in the decades ahead.
More generally, the African Energy Policy Network estimates that Africa has the world’s third largest crude oil reserves (behind the Middle East and Latin America), the third largest traditional natural gas resources (behind the Middle East and Europe), the second largest uranium resources (behind Australia), and lots of hydropower and other renewable energy resources.


While the 1,100MW of installed wind power on the continent currently makes up only 1% of total electricity supply, at least another 10,500MW are in the pipeline and much more is expected.
Prodigious sunshine blankets the continent for much of the year, ideal conditions for solar power.
Ethiopia hopes to be able to sell 30 to 40 percent of its surplus electricity to neighbouring countries. Ethiopia recently invaded its eastern neighbour, Somalia, in the vain hope of establishing peace there.
Kenya’s official generation capacity is approximately 1941 MW (whose distribution still stands in close proximity to the representation to the chart in Figure 1). Kenya has signed contractual agreements (called Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) to purchase power from thermal power stations in Thika (80 MW) and two in Athi River (at 80 and 83 MW respectively)). To do this would finally grant the Kenyan people their long deserved (energy) independence and their freedom.
I think this is why these power plants have such comparatively low capacity factors) but it doesn’t negate the heavy pass through fuel costs associated with the operations at those plants. The developer may spend 15 percent of the project's capital cost during test-drilling, with no guarantee of finding a viable site. This would be good news on many fronts—simultaneously reducing energy poverty, air pollution, carbon emissions, and costly fossil fuel imports.
SunCulture’s AgroSolar Irrigation Kit is a solar powered drip-irrigation system, designed to benefit those who live in arid and semi-arid areas. To date less than 10% of these hydropower resources have been tapped, and well under 1% of the geothermal resources. In contrast, other countries that straddle the Rift Valley have carried out no or limited exploration of geothermal resources. Oil spills in Nigeria over 50 years are estimated to 1.4-2 million m3, compared with the Mexican Gulf accident, spilling some 780,000 m3. Tanzania is steadily growing, and Uganda is expected to gain significant wealth as a result of oil discoveries.
By and large I do not think that a complete eradication of thermal power plants is feasible in the near term but I do believe ( and I think the writer of the blog would agree) that a date needs to be set when the government will stop accepting additional capacity from these power plants so as to predict power costs reductions. Next are the Philippines and Costa Rica, both at 15 percent, and New Zealand, at 14 percent. Agency for International Development (USAID), corresponding organizations in the European Union and its member states, and in other developed countries.
Ethiopia is the only other Rift Valley country to have installed geothermal power generation (currently 7MW but under expansion to 70MW).
Vast plains and mountain ranges are great sites for wind turbines while mighty rivers like the Zambezi can be harnessed for hydropower projects. Its only friendly relationships are with the tiny country Djibouti and southern neighbour Kenya. Total energy consumption in Africa is about 5,000TWh (16 quads), just 3% of global consumption.
All have recognized that Africa is at a crossroads with respect to its future energy development and the resultant impact on economic development. Solutions will require distributed renewable energy generation as the only practical means of meeting rural electrification needs, boosting cross-border power trade, improving the infrastructure capabilities and management of existing electric utilities, and assistance in planning low-carbon development paths. The pump allows farmers to pull water from a variety of water sources, including groundwater and lakes, using solar powerPhotovoltaics (PV) is the field of technology and research related to the application of solar cells for energy by converting sunlight directly into electricity. Solar power is sometimes used as a synonym to refer to electricity generated from solar radiation.. Water is then pumped into a raised storage tank during the day, enabling irrigation to take place during the evening. SunCulture’s solar-powered drip irrigation systems deliver water directly to crop roots, resulting in yield gains of up to 300% and water savings of up to 80%. The largest cost incurred by farmers is the cost of fuel or electricityElectricity generation includes all technologies that turn some form of energy into useful electric energy.
Nichols, founder of SunCulture GVEP’s Advisory Services started working with SunCulture in July 2013 with an aim to provide strategic advice and support focused on three key areas; end-user financing, capital raising and market feasibility studies. Working alongside SunCulture, GVEP is seeking to raise capital, support potential expansion to new markets and ensure end user financing is in place. Molly Doyle, GVEP’s Advisory Services Manager, and her team believe this is an innovation they want to support. We believe that SunCulture can also offer solutions to urban and rural populations in other parts of Kenya. We are working together with the SunCulture team to secure further resources to expand their operations within Africa”, said Molly. A feasibility study and technical pilot for their launch into the Kenya market was completed in May 2013, and since then there has been a steady increase in sales. They are currently based in Nairobi and plan to establish two additional offices in Eastern and Western parts of Kenya by the end of the year. GVEP’s Advisory Services are focused on supporting medium-sized energy accessEnergy access represents a crucial yet often overlooked dimension to the issue of poverty. Relatively small amounts of energy can satisfy the basic needs of rural populations and have a dramatic impact on quality of life. The team actively seeks out companies it believes have potential for growth and scale, and works with those companies in a variety of customised engagements.



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