Toshiba Corporation and Ormat Technologies have developed a technology that will benefit Menegai geothermal plant in Nakuru. The technology seeks to boost efficiency in energy production from underground steam sources and increase power output from a unit volume of steam. The two firms have signed a collaboration deal that will see Ormat bring in its capabilities in developing geothermal projects through use of binary or conventional flash system, or both.

 

The types of technology are used on each geothermal project based on the unique characteristics of the geothermal resource. In binary technology, geothermal water is used to heat other organic fluids with lower boiling temperatures and the resultant gaseous vapour used to turn turbines into power. While in flash system, water heated under pressure is separated into steam and hot water. The steam is later used to turn turbines to generate power. The liquid is injected back to the reservoir. This technology is expected to be roll out in future geothermal projects worldwide.

OrPower twenty-two owned by Ormat, Civicon and Symbion Power will finance, design, construct, install, operate and maintain the 35MW Menengai steam plant on a build-own-operate (BOO) basis for 25 years. Geothermal Development Company (GDC), which is wholly owned by the Government of Kenya, will develop the geothermal resource, supply the steam for conversion to electricity and maintain the geothermal field through the term of the agreement. Under the Power Purchase Agreement, Kenya Power will purchase all the energy generated by the project.

African Development Bank is expected to provide the power project with a Partial Risk Guarantee (PRG). This project falls under the Power Africa initiative launched by President Obama in June 2013 in order to increase access to power in sub-Saharan Africa. The Project Company expects to start construction upon financial closure. This will be the fourth plant under Ormat group in Kenya and once complete, more households in Kenya will gain access to cost-effective and clean power from their nation’s geothermal resources.

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