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Kenyan president hails China for boosting its geothermal power

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-05-02 11:25

NAIVASHA, Kenya - Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday hailed Chinese government for its assistance in boosting geothermal power production in the country.

Kenyatta said the Chinese have extended financial and technical expertise that has made Kenya become a leading geothermal electricity producer.

"We are very grateful to the people and government of China for their assistance that has enabled Kenya to exploit its enormous geothermal resources," Kenyatta said in Naivasha when he broke ground for the construction of the Olkaria V power project which will produce 158 MW of electricity.

The President at the same time also commissioned 14 wellhead units producing a total of 75 mW of electricity.

The "wellhead unit" is a unique technology to harness geothermal power, which has reduced the duration between the first drilling of a well and installation of a geothermal plant from five years to two years.

The Export-Import Bank of China has given a $400 million loan facility to enable Kenya to conduct drilling for geothermal steam.

The financial assistance was for drilling 80 wells; but given the efficiency and expertise of the Chinese firm, Great Wall Drilling Company, 89 geothermal wells have been drilled. The drilling began in September 2012 and the last well was completed in June 2016.

Kenyatta said the expansion of geothermal power production will contribute to Kenya's prosperity. "In commissioning these wells, and in breaking ground for the new project, we take a mighty step on the road to prosperity for this nation," he noted.

He added that Kenya has one of the largest reserves of geothermal energy and more plants will be constructed to harness the power for the benefit of Kenyans.

"This form of energy is not subject to the vagaries of the weather, and that it runs at a respectable rate of more than 90 percent of the time every year, means that we can bring reliable power to every Kenyan home," said the Kenyan leader.

Once the geothermal power plant is connected to the national grid, more Kenyan households are expected to access electricity.

Government data indicates that since 2013, electricity connections have risen to 5.9 million households representing 63 percent of the total population, up from 2.26 million.

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