Drilling works resume at Akiira geothermal site in Kenya

KENYA – Drilling works are set to resume at the Akiira geothermal site in the Rift Valley, western Kenya after the local population gave the green light to its owner, Akiira Geothermal Company to continue work after months of blockade.

The local communities, particularly those in Kedong and Lapland in Naivasha, were concerned about the environmental impacts of geothermal installations.

The concession is operated by a consortium of Centum Investments Company, Marine Power Generation, DI Frontier Energy Carbon Fund and Ram Energy.

To gain the support of the protesters, Akiira Geothermal Company organised a consultative meeting at which the environmental audit report of the project was presented.

The independent power producer (IPP) also plans to invest in social issues through the construction of water points and support for the education of young people in the surrounding communities.

With that one problem solved, Akiira Geothermal Company is now focusing on mobilising funding for the development of its clean energy project.

At the height of the crisis with local people, the IPP lost the support of the European Investment Bank (EIB). The European Union (EU) development finance institution decided in October 2019 to cancel its 19.5 billion US$190 million loan for the implementation of the project.

Officially, the EIB justified the cancellation of its funding by the lack of progress in Akiira Geothermal Company’s expansion activities.

 “Akiira Geothermal Company is owned by Centum Investments Company, Marine Power Generation, DI Frontier Energy Carbon Fund (a Danish energy fund) and Ram Energy

However, the company can still count on Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. development finance agency, which has already released US$86 million since 2014.

Preliminary explorations for the first phase of the project were not successful, despite the drilling of two geothermal wells. However, the company soon launched new exploratory drilling at the project site.

In January 2019, Akiira Geothermal decided to carry out new explorations by drilling a third well. According to the company, drilling a new well was essential, as the amount of steam emerging from the first two wells was considered insufficient.

Its objective is to produce 140 MWe of electricity by exploiting the heat of the Rift Valley’s subsoil. This project will be carried out in several phases, the first of which will allow the construction of a 70 MWe steam power plant.

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