Kenya Electricity Generation (KenGen), the country’s biggest power producer, has named four companies as pre-qualified bidders for the expansion of the Olkaria geothermal plants.
Alstom of France and the three Japanese firms Fuji-Electricity Holding, Mitsubishi and Toshiba will compete for the project to increase output at the facility by 280 MW of geothermal energy. Tender documents are due on 24 February and will be evaluated in March.
Kenya, Africa’s biggest geothermal producer, is expanding its search for underground steam deposits with a $2.6bn, 10-year plan to sink 566 wells at Olkaria, Menengai and Silali in the Great Rift Valley, where shifting tectonic plates provide a key source of the energy. The country has an estimated geothermal potential of between 7 GW and 10 GW, according to the state-run Geothermal Development Co.
Kenya currently has 212 MW of installed capacity at geothermal power plants in Olkaria, 120 kilometers (75 miles) northwest of Nairobi.
KenGen operates two sites with the ability to generate a combined 160 MW. Ormat Technologies Inc., a unit of Israel’s Ormat Industries Ltd., operates one 48 MW plant, while Oserian, Kenya’s biggest grower of freshly cut flowers, has a 4 MW facility used to warm greenhouses. The Expansion of Olkaria I and the new Olkaria IV site will involve building four 70 MW units.
Meanwhile, KenGen’s 120 MW diesel-fired Kipevu III power plant in the coastal city of Mombasa is scheduled to begin operating next week. That will bring the country’s total installed capacity for electricity generation to about 1.5 GW.
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