A $2.7 million project has been launched in Kenya to locate and evaluate potential sites for geothermal energy plants in Rift Valley Province.

The project has started with a series of exploratory tests at the Menenga Crater in Nakuru, 200 km north of Nairobi, due to be completed by July 2004. The tests will include seismic surveys, magento-tellurics, transient electromagnetics and gravimetry.

The Olkaria and Eburu geothermal plants currently produce a total of 121MWe, representing 10% of Kenya’s total installed generating capacity. If the exploration gives positive results, then these plants are expected to be significantly expanded. Kenya Electricity Generating Company, KenGen expects to eventually produce 2000 MWe from all geothermal sources. That figure is based on a Draft National Energy Policy whose studies indicated that potential in the Rift Valley

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has contributed $37 million to the project; the Federal Institute for Geo-Sciences and Natural Resources of Germany has donated E1 million; and KFW Bank has provided a Trust Fund to underwrite the drilling cost. The US Trade and Development Agency, the Italian and Icelandic governments, and the African Development Bank have all pledged financial support.