The construction of the first multi-billion shilling geothermal power plant on the Menengai Crater Floor in Nakuru will commence in December this year.
County Commissioner Erastus Mbui Mwenda says Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Ltd (KETRACO) and Geothermal Development Company have already constructed power transmission lines that will link the station to the national grid.
Three Independent Power Producers (IPPS) have been cleared by the Geothermal Development Company (GDC) and granted licenses by the State to start operations at the Menengai Crater Floor in Nakuru.
Sosian Menengai, Quantam Power East Africa and OrPower22 are expected to set up power plants under a build–own–operate model, giving hope for cheap electrical power in the country.
Each is expected to set up at least a 35MW modular geothermal power plant in the Menengai Crater field to generate a cumulative 170 Mega Watts.
Mwenda who spoke when members of the Nakuru County Development Implementation Coordination Committee (CDICC) inspected the facility however conceded that construction of the power plants was behind schedule as the project had been slated to kick off in January this year.
He says the IPPS have encountered challenges in sourcing funds to get started.
Mwenda observes that geothermal energy will be critical in all the fronts because of its affordability.
He says geothermal energy will drive the agenda of food security and manufacturing.
General Manager, Geothermal Development Resources at GDC Cornel Ofuna says the firm had commenced the second phase of drilling wells at the Menengai Crater floor targeting an addition 60 Megawatts.
In his estimation once complete, the Menengai Geothermal Station will produce enough electricity to serve almost half a million homesteads and 300,000 businesses.
Drilling is still ongoing at the floor of Menengai Crater for many other phases.
GDC is currently working on the Baringo Silali Project after months of painstaking explorations.
Ofuna says Kenya has a huge untapped geothermal potential. The country is top in Africa with 700 megawatts (MW) and is ahead of the technological heavyweight Japan which has been ranked 10th with an output of 500 MW.
He says 85 per cent of works on a 25km long pipeline which is expected to carry 170MW of steam to be used by the power plants in producing electricity is complete and that the first phase has cost the taxpayer Ksh 70 billion.