Observing the Success of GEF Investments

STAP Chair’s Visit to the Menengai and Olkaria Geothermal Fields

Kenya, August 2013

rig[E]arlier this month, while on mission in Kenya to meet with senior UNEP officials, the STAP Chair Dr. Rosina Bierbaum, and the STAP Secretary, Thomas Hammond accompanied by Dr. Meseret Zemedkhun, Program Manager of ARGeo, had the opportunity to visit and observe Kenya’s fast expanding geothermal development projects – the Menengai and Olkaria Geothermal Fields.

Located 10km north of Nakuru, the Menengai Caldera is a trachytic central volcano underlain by a high-level magma chamber.  The activity found in the Volcano provided a significant opportunity for the development of the Menengai Geothermal Development project, aimed at meeting the needs of Kenya’s increasing demand for power in accordance with the country’s green growth vision. The Geothermal Development Company (GDC) has so far drilled 15 wells from which the steam equivalent of over 100Mwe has been proven. Drilling continues with the hopes of targeting up to 400Mwe in the coming years. The tour of the site included a visit to the drilling sites, view wells, pump stations and tree nursery.

The Olkario Geothermal area is located within the Greater Olkaria Volcanic Complex which consists of a series of lava domes/flow and ashes.  To date, 186 wells have been drilled in Olkaria with a proven power potential of 620 MWe. As works continue in this area, the target potential of 1400 MWe will prove to be a substantial contribution towards the improvement in Kenya’s green power supply. The Olkaria geothermal area has been divided into seven development sectors. The scope of the visit was limited to three of the sectors, Olkaria III (South West Field) and Olkaria II (North East Field) and the Olkaria – Domes Field, where the members of STAP were able to visit specific power stations, drilling sites and gain more understanding about the project.

GEFKenyaThe African Rift Geothermal Development Facility Project (ARGeo), a GEF funded projected being implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has played a crucial role in the development of these geothermal facilities and its operations, more specifically the Menengai Geothermal Development. This GEF investment has allowed for a leap frog effect in the project’s work in terms of lower financial costs, reduced risk associated with the resource’s exploration and leveraging new technologies. The success of such an investment has had, and will continue to have, an immense effect within other countries in the region and other nearby regions.