Electricity consumers have a reason to smile following a projected reduction of the cost of power this month by Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen).
KenGen's chief executive officer, Mr Albert Mugo, attributed the expected cost reduction to the introduction of 14 mobile geothermal generating wells at the Olkaria site in Naivasha.
It is expected that the cost will come down from about Sh17 to about Sh6 per kilowatt hour.
He told a media briefing during a meeting with British investors on Monday that electricity bills for consumers this month would be lower due to the introduction of renewable energy.
The introduction of renewable energy was in line with the company’s quest to meet the continuing demand for cheaper and more flexible geothermal power-generation solutions.
He explained that the company was prioritising the use of mobile power plants, which can be placed at the well heads of particular geothermal resources,
He said this had helped to generate at least 25.6 megawatts of electricity to the national grid in the past six months.
Olkaria geothermal power plant manager Geoffrey Muchemi said: “The new concept we are adopting has enabled us to generate optimum power to be produced from each individual well. This also reduces well redundancy and can also enable us as a company to help cater for excess steam buffer to cater for well failures.”
The wellheads, a first of its kind, is part of the company’s strategy to increase the amount of electricity produced for national consumption as well as to cut fuel costs from diesel plants.
Mr Muchemi explained that the company did not have to undergo heavy expenses in building a permanent well that is then abandoned after the geothermal steam in the area gets fully exhausted.
MANAGE THE ENVIRONMENT
This, he added, would help in environmental management as they did not have to dig deep rigs in order to construct a permanent power plant.
"It has enabled us generate power earlier in the project-development life cycle, rather than wait until a huge mass of productive steam wells are drilled before building a traditional, large scale power plant," Mr Mugo said.
Mr Mugo said that the company would complete the final tests on the fourteen mobile geothermal wellheads in December next year.
This is expected to add an additional 75 megawatts to the national grid, and help reduce further the cost of electricity.
“The only challenge we have faced is the lack of an evacuation line for one of the well heads but we are working on this with partners.”
Mugo argued that the innovative technology would help Kenya tap into its cast geothermal resources faster to reduce the cost of power and enhance the country energy stability.
“We intend to also cut costs by introducing wells that are not operated by diesel. This will also help in the proper generation of electricity,” he added.
The government is currently pursuing an ambitious programme seeking to add 5000MW to the national grid by 2017.