Menengai geothermal development project: Green energy in motion


Context

Access to electricity in Kenya remains relatively limited. Only half the population has access to it, at a cost much higher than in other African economies. On top of this there is the instability of the network, with frequent blackouts, which raises questions about large scale reliance on hydroelectric energy production.

This being so, diversification of sources of electricity has become a real priority issue for Kenya. Aware of its huge geothermal potential, the country has committed in its 2030 vision to increasing its electricity production capacity through the Menengai geothermal development project, which has US $502.9 million in funding from the Bank. With a capacity of 400 MW, it will provide reliable, clean and affordable electricity to thousands of households and industries.

Although it needs heavy investment, geothermal is competitive with other renewable energy sources. With a very low carbon footprint, it enables those countries that have it to considerably reduce the effects of climate change.

It was in this context that in 2011, the Kenyan Government asked the Bank for technical and financial support for this project.


Key facts and figures

  • Approval: 2011
  • Funding: US $502.9 million
  • Beneficiaries: 500,000 homes and 300,000 micro-enterprises

Objectives

  • To increase geothermal energy production capacity by 400 MW.
  • To provide a reliable, clean and affordable electricity supply to 500,000 households and 300,000 micro-enterprises.
  • To accelerate the energy transition of the Kenyan economy through increasing the proportion of geothermal in the national energy mix.
  • To reduce the frequency of power outages caused by the volatility of hydroelectric production.

Expected outcomes

  • Rate of access to electricity increased by 20%.
  • Geothermal energy production capacity increased by 26%.

  • CO2 emissions reduced by 2 million tonnes.
  • Cost per kilowatt reduced by 22%.  
  • Accelerated energy transition.

Testimony

Anita Kariuiki, 52, Nakuru District

For Anita Kariuki, the imminent arrival of electricity will considerably change her life and the lives of the other women in the village. “Having electricity at home soon is going to make our lives easier. It will be easier for us to cook and have light in the house. I’m really looking forward to it, because it will help me manage household tasks better. The children will no longer have to sleep late. And when I wake up in the morning, I’ll be able to quickly make breakfast and get them off to school on time.