A cooperation agreement has been signed between the Kenyan Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) and the University of Twente in the Netherlands to strengthen expertise in geothermal energy. The partnership will last three years.
Over the next three years, the University of Twente in the Netherlands and KenGen will work closely together to revitalise the geothermal energy sector in both countries. This is the main part of the agreement that both parties signed at the beginning of November 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya. From 2019 to 2022, the two partners are expected to operate at KenGen-owned power plants in the Olkaria region, south of Lake Naivasha in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley. It has an estimated geothermal energy potential of 2,000 MW.
The benefits of the partnership
Both parties hope to benefit greatly from the collaboration. They have set up a programme to facilitate the acquisition and sharing of knowledge. Research projects will also be undertaken in KenGen’s geothermal power plants to develop a platform equipped with surveillance drones. A system that will facilitate the collection and use of geothermal data and, in turn, the planning and monitoring of these activities.
The monitoring will have a direct impact on the production of geothermal energy by making it more sustainable, safe and efficient. As Chris Hecker, programme coordinator, reaffirmed, “adequate monitoring allows better control of geothermal extraction processes. Many factors influence extraction, including changes in precipitation patterns due to climate change. By better anticipating all these factors, we will ensure more sustainable and efficient extraction processes. Similarly, we will closely monitor the influence of extraction on its environment: groundwater, surface water, nature and air quality, to name but a few of the themes studied.”
Kenya is the largest producer of geothermal energy in Africa and ranks 9th in the world. Its capacity has increased tenfold in one year, from 620 MW in 2017 to 700 MW in 2018. The potential for geothermal energy is immense in Kenya, especially in the Great Rift Valley, which will benefit from the partnership with the Netherlands. This East African country is the first in the world to have installed wellhead power plants that make it possible to exploit drilled wells more quickly. The country plans to reach a production capacity of 5 GW by 2030.