Kenya leads in geothermal energy production

By the volume of the electricity it generated from geothermal energy source between 2010 and 2015, Kenya becomes the top nation in the world.

During this period Kenya has produced 392 megawatts of electricity from the renewal energy source – geothermal. This is indicated by Ludvik S. Georgsson, Director of United Nations University – Geological Training Program, who presented his paper this morning at the 6th African Rift Geothermal Conference (ARGEO – C6) opened in Addis Ababa.

“In terms of the geothermal power generation in the last five years, the progress Kenya has made in the last five years is really fantastic,” he said presenting a paper entitled, ‘World outlook for geothermal electricity 2016’.

United States of America, Turkey, New Zealand and Indonesia respectively ranked 2 to 4th place by generating 352, 306, 243 and 143 megawatts of electricity from geothermal during this period. Kenya as indicated in its Vision 2030 plans to increase its geothermal energy production to 5,000 megawatts some 14 years later.

When it comes to the total volume of electricity from geothermal, Kenya ranked the 8th in the world by the end of 2015 generating 594 megawatts of electricity from the renewable source. While the United States of America is the top nation in the world generating 16,600 megawatts of geothermal energy followed by Philippines and Indonesia each producing 9,646 and 9,600 megawatts, respectively.

“Africa suffers from an acute and chronic energy shortage, notably lack of electricity,” Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo, Regional Director of the United Nations Environment Office for Africa, said in her message to the conference.

“With little more than a 10% of the population connected to an electricity grid, with even lower rates in rural areas, this is seen as a key impediment to economic growth… Geothermal is indigenous, reliable and pricewise lower in cost than imported oil or coal and a key ally in realizing a transition to a low carbon, resource efficient and inclusive green growth,” she added.

In Africa Ethiopia, which has been focusing on developing its hydropower potential, is also mentioned for producing around 7 megawatts of electricity from geothermal. “…Following the Kenyan experience we are also working on improving our laws and regulations to attract private investors in geothermal projects. We have to create conducive environment for the private sector to come and work here on geothermal,” Motuma Mekassa, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, said at the follow-up press conference.

By 2037, Ethiopia plans to generate 5,000 megawatts of electricity from geothermal, according to Masresha Gebresellassie, Director of Ethiopian Geological Survey, the government agency in charge of studying natural resources of the country and facilitating investment.

Reports show that at global level out of the current 7.4 billion total population of the world, 1.1 billion people do not have access to electricity. The share of geothermal energy within the global renewable energy source is currently less around 1.5%. Renewable energy sources in total contribute to 22% of the global energy.

The world’s energy source is still dominated by coal, gas and oil, which account together for 67% of the total energy of the world, while nuclear energy accounts for 11%. If the trend continues as it was in the past the share of geothermal energy in the global energy source is forecasted to reach 2.5% by 2060 when the population of the world rises to 10.2 billion.