KENYA – Two Kenyan energy firms have been picked among finalists to receive funding to develop geothermal wells in Kenya by the African Union-backed Geothermal Risk Mitigation Facility for East Africa (GRMF).

State-owned Geothermal Development Company (GDC) and private firm Empakaa Energy had sought funding support for drilling and infrastructure of wells in the country.

GRMF, set up in 2012 by the African Union Commission (AUC), said in a notice the two Kenyan firms alongside four others from Djibouti and Tanzania will get cumulative funding of US$15.6 million (Sh1.7 billion) to support their energy projects.

The specific amount given to each establish the specific amounts allocated to the two Kenyan firms.

“The results of the 6th GRMF Application Round show the great development of the East African geothermal market and the increasing number of active market players,” said Atef Marzouk, Acting Director AUC-Infrastructure and Energy Department.

“With more and more successfully implemented projects and a growing project pipeline, we are moving closer and closer to the goal of the programme: increased usage of geothermal energy in East Africa. We are therefore also looking forward to a high level of participation in the seventh GRMF application round.”

GRMF’s key mandate is to encourage the development of geothermal energy sources in East Africa by removing the high upfront costs associated with infrastructure development in greenfield projects and initial exploratory drilling in geothermal fields given that a geothermal well costs about KSh650 million (US$5.9 million) to drill.

Kenya has a high geothermal resource potential of around 10,000 megawatts, with most of it in the Olkaria fields in Naivasha along the Rift Valley.

The country has pushed hard to harness its geothermal capabilities. This has seen it grow from generating just 45 megawatts of geothermal power in 1985 to the current installed geothermal capacity of 860 megawatts.

“With more and more successfully implemented projects and a growing project pipeline, we are moving closer and closer to the goal of the programme: an increased usage of geothermal energy in East Africa”

Atef Marzouk – Ag Director, AUC- Infrastructure and Energy Department

In March 2021, the Department of Infrastructure & Energy of the African Union Commission and the Geothermal Development Company signed a GRMF grant contract for the Paka drilling programme.

The total grant amount of US$5,162 million will support 40% of the total drilling cost and 20% of the infrastructure development cost of the project.

The grant will enable GDC to drill two deep geothermal wells and upgrade the existing infrastructure to allow further development of the geothermal resource in the project area in the Baringo – Silali Geothermal Province.

This project is part of the first geothermal drilling programme, situated approximately 120km south of Lake Turkana.

GDC believes the project could provide 100MW from the Pak geothermal project.

GRMF was established to fund, facilitate, and accelerate geothermal development in Eastern Africa. The purpose is to encourage public and private sector investment into geothermal power generation and this is done through grants for surface studies, drilling programmes and reservoir testing to confirm wells.

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