Kenya’s Renewable Revolution with Toshiba ESS Geothermal Energy

Kenya's Renewable Revolution with Toshiba ESS Geothermal Energy

Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions Corporation (Toshiba ESS) has clinched a contract. They will supply steam turbines and generators for the revamp of Kenya’s oldest geothermal power plant, Olkaria I.

Toshiba ESS’s turbines and generators will increase the power output of Units 1 to 3 from 15 MW to 21 MW each, a 40% increase, while using less steam.

The renovation is being carried out by SEPCOIII Electric Power Construction Co., Ltd., the appointed EPC contractor. 

Toshiba ESS aims to start delivering the new equipment by December 2025, with the project set for completion by 2026.

This project is significant for Kenya’s renewable energy sector, as Olkaria I is the country’s oldest geothermal power plant.

Toshiba ESS and KenGen will collaborate on operation and maintenance (O&M) services for geothermal power plants in developing countries, including those in East Africa.

This partnership seeks to leverage their expertise and networks to support the growth of geothermal power in the region.

The renovation will involve replacing the old steam turbines in Units 1 through 3 with Toshiba ESS’s high-performance turbines and generators.

This upgrade will allow the plant to generate more power using less steam, enhancing its operational efficiency.

Toshiba ESS estimates that it will start delivering the new steam turbines and generators by December 2025, with the project expected to be completed by 2026.

This renovation project is significant for Kenya’s renewable energy sector, as Olkaria I is the country’s oldest geothermal power plant. 

Upgrading the plant’s capacity will contribute to Kenya’s goal of transitioning to 100% green energy by 2030.

Geothermal energy, being renewable and clean, holds promise in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing energy security. 

This transition not only reduces the country’s carbon footprint but also fosters long-term economic growth by providing a sustainable and affordable energy supply.

Additionally, the partnership between KenGen and Toshiba ESS highlights the importance of international cooperation in clean energy projects.

By leveraging their expertise and networks, the two companies aim to support geothermal power growth in East Africa. 

This collaboration is strengthened by the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between KenGen and Toshiba ESS. 

The MOU outlines their intentions to collaborate on the operation and maintenance (O&M) of geothermal power plants in developing nations.

Such investments and knowledge-sharing can accelerate geothermal energy deployment, driving sustainable development in the region.

The Olkaria I power plant’s refurbishment is expected to have a positive impact on surrounding communities, creating new job opportunities during construction and operation.


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Furthermore, the enhanced power generation capacity will improve access to electricity, leading to improved infrastructure, healthcare, and educational opportunities.

While the project presents great potential, challenges such as technical complexities, funding constraints, or environmental concerns may need addressing. To overcome these challenges, Toshiba ESS and KenGen will need to draw on their experience and expertise in the geothermal sector. 

Collaboration with local authorities and communities will be crucial to ensuring the project’s environmental sustainability and addressing concerns.

Securing adequate funding through public-private partnerships or government support will also be crucial for success.

Looking ahead, the project is just the beginning of Kenya’s geothermal energy transformation. The Great Rift Valley region is estimated to have a geothermal potential of 9 GW, and the government is working to tap into this resource. 

Through continued partnerships and supportive policies, Kenya can further develop its geothermal energy sector, attracting more investments and expertise.

This will strengthen the country’s energy security and also position it as a regional leader in clean energy development, with the potential to share its knowledge and experience with other East African nations. 

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