– Various countries are turning towards geothermal energy – Kenya hopes to double capacity over the next five years
– South-east Asian governments offer incentives to encourage investment
– High drilling costs pose barrier to further development While solar and wind are the dominant segments in the transition to renewables , a number of emerging markets are looking to geothermal sources as a way to meet future energy needs.
Geothermal energy – which is generated when pipes drilled into the earth’s surface supply steam to power electricity turbines – lags behind other forms of renewables in terms of installed capacity; however, it is an effective solution for many countries. Geothermal on the rise in Kenya
One of the countries leveraging its significant geothermal potential is Kenya. Located on the Great Rift Valley – where tectonic plates meet and bring magma closer to the earth’s surface – Kenya derives almost half of its electricity from geothermal sources, according to Fitch Solutions, with its contribution set to expand to nearly three-fifths by 2030.
As part of plans to boost geothermal capacity, in July the state-owned Kenya Electricity Generating Company, also known as KenGen, announced its intention to invest $2bn over the next five years on new plants and modernisation. These efforts are expected to double installed geothermal capacity to around 1600 MW.
The company aims to bring the 83.8-MW Olkaria I Unit 6 plant, which is currently under construction, on-line later this year, while the Geothermal Development Company, another state-owned body, has plans to complete the construction of three geothermal plants in Menengai with a combined capacity of 105 MW in 2023 .
The benefits of Kenya’s geothermal expansion extend beyond generating electricity; the country has begun to export its expertise to some of its East African neighbours.
In February KenGen won a $6.6m contract to drill geothermal wells in Djibouti , and in late May the company began drilling works as part of a $69.7m deal in Ethiopia. KenGen has also said it is in talks to undertake projects in both Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as the region increasingly looks to tap its geothermal resources. South-east Asia’s main players
While the US is the world’s leading producer of geothermal energy, a number of other emerging markets play key roles on the international scene, with Indonesia and the Philippines alone accounting for around 25% of the world’s geothermal energy production.