Kenya builds Africa’s first Geothermal power plant

A first for Africa.

Kenya has, in its bid to find new and even more clean ways to generate electric power and other forms of usable energy it might need, started a project that led to the formation of geothermal wellheads which is not just the first in Africa, but also in the world.

The geothermal wellheads was the technological brainchild of the engineers working over at the Kenya Electricity Generation (KenGen) company where the geothermal wellheads are known to contribute about 56 mega watts of electricity to the sum total generated by the national grid.

Kenya builds Africa's first Geothermal power plant Technology: General
Explaining how the Geothermal plant works. Credits: carbonneutral.com

Explaining the time factor behind the completion of this project, one of the engineers has explained that a single wellhead could take years to become operational as after build, steam would have to be fed into the system from single wells.

Kenya builds Africa's first Geothermal power plant Technology: General
Geothermal wellheads in Olkaria, in Kenya’s Rift Valley region. Credit I. Esipisu/IPS

“We are taking advantage of these single wells to generate power using the steam, which would otherwise have gone to waste while the main plant is being constructed”, said the Chief Engineer in charge of wellheads at the KenGen while speaking on the project.

Geothermal energy is mainly based on heat (as suggested by ‘thermal’) and for those who do not know, is generated when super heated steam from the earth crust is used to rotate turbines of power generators. The steam is ejected through drilled wells sometimes up to more than three kilometers deep into the ground.

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