It is beyond dispute today that the increased use of renewable energies is a prerequisite for sound, sustainable development, and future human well-being. Many industrial countries strive to take a leading position in technology development, with positive consequences for their export and labor markets. To count on renewable energies in developing modern energy supplies has several advantages. In addition to environmental aspects like a decrease in local air pollution, global CO2 emissions, and deforestation, they are a key to becoming more independent of imports of fossil fuels and uncertainties associated with the commodity markets.
The development of renewable energies-biomass, geothermal, hydro, solar and wind, is not only important for industrial countries. Today, approximately two billion people, about one-third of the global population, have no access to modern energy. In some regions, electricity is available to only 3 % of the population. This is a central obstacle to development because the relationships between poverty and energy supply are complex: economy, health, education − the question of energy supply affects them all. Thus, if the world community succeeds in alleviating poverty, the demand for energy will rise significantly.
Energy is needed to support the activities to reach the other sustainable development goals, most of which require additional energy: e.g. to build and operate the schools in which all boys and girls are to receive basic education, to run the hospitals which will help reduce child mortality, to pump and to treat the water for those who are presently denied access. Reliable energy will power economic development to create employment and will generate the required improvements in social and individual welfare.
The energy sector in Kenya is largely dominated by electricity and petroleum, with wood fuel providing the basic energy needs for a majority of the rural communities, urban poor and part of the informal sector. Use of wood fuel and other biomass in the nation is at an estimated 68% of the country’s total energy consumption. Petroleum and electricity are at an estimated 22 percent and 9 percent respectively. The Kenya government aims to increase electricity connectivity from 15 percent to at least 65 by the year 2022 and they might just be on that road given the full steam reserves in the Rift valley that might offer sustainable energy.
Kenya has moved into tapping the vast steam reserves in the rift valley. Being the first African nation to drill for geothermal power, it has benefitted from a Programme guided by scientists from Iceland with a lot of expertise. Geothermal energy is fueled by the internal heat generated and stored in the earth. Kenya has successfully initiated medium to large geothermal power development projects. It’s amongst over twenty countries worldwide already using geothermal energy to generate electricity.
In Kenya, the Olkaria geothermal power plants operate in the Rift Valley, 105 kilometers northwest of the capital, Nairobi. They are expected to become the largest power generation complex in Kenya and to eventually increase the share of geothermal power in the country’s supply mix to about 25 percent.
Currently, about 1.5 billion people worldwide have no access to modern energy services. One of the main challenges in achieving an energy sustainable future is to phase out inefficient fossil fuel consumption and make a smooth transition to clean energy.
Why Embrace Geo-Thermal?
Well, reliability. Geothermal power is baseload energy which is independent of daylight as well as weather conditions and climate. The Olkaria East power plant in Kenya has had the availability of about 97% and a load factor of about 92% for twenty years.
Geothermal power is affordable as well. It production entails low costs or even the least cost option at many sites with high natural potential.
Moreover, Geothermal power plants are modularly expandable according to the demand and are environmentally friendly in that it is almost emission-free and the land requirement is very low compared to coal mining, solar and wind energy. This makes it flexible.
The Ugly In Geothermal Energy?
Currently, there are several obstacles to the development of renewable energies in general. These are mainly market barriers, lack of knowledge, an inadequate legal and regulatory framework and investment barriers. A major barrier for the wider use of geothermal is related to its nature- steam and hot water have to be found up to several kilometers under the earth’s surface. T
This makes it hard to access and profound geological knowledge is needed to assess the geothermal resource potential. Exploration of the resources is expensive due to high drilling costs. Geological uncertainties lined to high up-front costs
They are not easily accessible and profound geological knowledge is needed to assess the geothermal resource potential. Exploration of the resources is expensive due to high drilling costs. In addition, the high up-front costs are linked with geological uncertainties and thus deter potential investors.
All problems do have solutions and where there is a will there is a way. Overlooking these obstacles could be the start of something great and it is already working. Geothermal energy will open doors to achieving other sustainable development goals which will be beneficial in the long term.