The Indian company Kalpataru Power Transmission, Shanghai Siyuan Electric and Nari Group, two Chinese companies, have been contracted by the Kenyan authorities to build the Olkaria-Lessos-Kisumu power line to deliver geothermal electricity to several counties in western Kenya. The project is funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
The population of the western counties will soon consume electricity produced from a much greener source than before: geothermal energy. To this end, three companies have been chosen by the authorities to quickly install the Olkaria-Lessos-Kisumu high-voltage line. These are the Indian company Kalpataru Power Transmission and two Chinese companies, Shanghai Siyuan Electric and Nari Group.
In the coming months, they will build a 220 kV/400 kV high-voltage line 300 km long. This will replace an existing 132 kV line that was suffering from electricity losses. The Kenyan authorities estimate that the future infrastructure will save up to 2 billion Kenyan shillings (close to $20 million) per year.
Most importantly, the Olkaria-Lessos-Kisumu high-voltage line will lift the counties of western Kenya out of their dependence on hydropower, which has been stagnating recently due to drought, lowering river flows and reducing the production capacity of the Sondo Miriu (60 MW) and Turkwel (106 MW) hydroelectric power stations. The new high-voltage line will transport energy from the Olkaria geothermal site in the Rift Valley to western Kenya.
The JICA funding
The Olkaria-Lessos-Kisumu high-voltage power line construction project comes at a time when Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen), Kenya’s largest electricity producer, is about to commission the 165 MW Olkaria V geothermal power plant. Kenya Power (KPLC), the electricity utility company, is expected to purchase this energy from June 2019.
The geothermal energy production site is undergoing other developments, including the extension of the Olkaria 1 power plant, with the construction of unit 6 with a capacity of 70 MW. The project was awarded to Marubeni Corporation, a major Japanese commercial group. In the field, the work is being carried out by Fuji Electric, its Japanese partner. The new unit will increase Olkaria’s geothermal plant capacity from 185 MW to 255 MW.
Electricity produced from Olkaria 1 could also pass through the Olkaria-Lessos-Kisumu high-voltage line. Its construction will require a total investment of 18.2 billion shillings, or $180 million. Funding is provided by a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Jean Marie Takouleu