Geothermal in Kenya, China, US, Armenia, Netherlands

This post brings you geothermal headlines from Kenya, China, the US, Armenia, and the Netherlands.

weber state university

Image Credit: Weber State University

Africa and the Middle East

Kenya – President Kenyatta Asks Private Businesses to Invest in Country’s Geothermal

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta recently asked private business to tap into Kenya’s geothermal energy reserves and supplement government efforts to provide clean energy.

Speaking in Lusaka, Zambia last Tuesday, President Kenyata said the Geothermal Development Company has established that Kenya has huge, commercially viable clean energy reserves, but the government can’t exploit it alone and requires input from private business.

“Geothermal power sources today account for about 40% of Kenya’s power needs,” said President Kenyatta.

“Thermal energy now accounts for just about 10% of Kenya’s on-grid energy,” he said during a panel discussion hosted by the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) as part of its 51st annual meeting in the Zambian capital.

Other panellists were President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and bank’s president Dr Akinwumi Adesina.

Panellists commended Kenya for increasing on-grid connections in the country, as well as investments in renewable energy.

Asia and the Pacific

China – Great Wall Drilling Company Extends Partnership with KenGen

Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) is looking to extend its rich partnership with Chinese firm Great Wall Drilling Company, KenGen recently said.

KenGen Managing Director Albert Mugo stated to Xinhua in Nairobi that the Chinese firm has comprised its main geothermal steam drilling contractor.

“We may approach the Great Wall Drilling Company so that we extend our current partnership due to their high efficiency in drilling for geothermal steam,” Mugo elaborated.

The Chinese Export Import Bank gave Kenya a $400 million loan to support the drilling of geothermal steam.

Mugo said that the financial assistance aided the drilling of 80 wells but, due to the efficiency and expertise of the Great Wall Drilling Company, they were able to drill a total 90 geothermal wells.

“The drilling began in September 2012 and the last well will be completed next month. We are very pleased with the work of the Chinese and so we hope to enlist them to help expand geothermal electricity production in Kenya,” Mugo said.

The steam obtained from the drilling efforts will be used to expand KenGen electricity production which currently stands at 1,617 MW, a leader in the African Rift Valley.

KenGen intends to begin construction of 140 and 70 MW geothermal electricity plants by the end of 2016.

Kenya’s long term goal is to reduce its reliance on fossil-fuel based electricity production by increasing power production from renewable energy sources such as geothermal.

The Americas

USA – Weber State University Bolsters Sustainability with Geothermal Technology

Weber State University has welcomed recycling bins, solar panels and electric vehicles as part of its sustainability efforts. Now it’s tapping into underground geothermal resources.

Rigs are currently drilling over 200 deep-water wells in the parking lot north of the Ogden campus’s Stewart Stadium. The wells will aid in the regulation of temperatures in the decades-old steam and chilled water system used to heat and cool every building on campus. Circulating that water underground warms or cools it back to 57 degrees, so it consumes less energy to bring buildings to comfortable temperatures.

The geothermal project is part of the university’s pledge to become carbon neutral by 2050.

“Our long-term strategy is to get completely off fossil fuels, get onto electric and then produce electricity renewably,” explained Jacob Cain, WSU operations director, in an official statement. “We know how we’re going to do it and will probably reach our goal 10 years ahead of schedule.”

University administrators already plan to replace the parking lot, located in the northeast corner of campus. Drilling the 275-foot deep wells added $500,000 to the $3 million resurfacing project. University officials said the wells are intended to last up to 75 years and will pay for themselves through energy savings in 10 years.

The geothermal project goes hand-in-hand with upgrades the university is making to its heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Those HVAC systems are being replaced with more compact and efficient “variable refrigerant flow” technologies building by building as necessary.

“We’re timing it with our capital improvements, so we’re replacing systems in buildings that were due for mechanical renovations anyway,” Cain said in the statement. “We tie a little bit of energy money with the renovation projects. But we are finding that the renovations are not as expensive as people think.”

The Utah Association of Energy Users presented WSU with an “Outstanding Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Conservation” award in May 2016, thanks partially to the geothermal project, according to a press release. WSU in not a member of the association.

Other sustainability efforts at WSU campuses included adding solar panels, changing lighting to LEDs and swapping out old windows for more energy efficient ones. The university’s management crews also employ a small fleet of solar-powered electric golf cars for transportation around campus.


Armenia – New Grant Program to Provide for Geothermal Resources Exploration

With a new grant program, Armenia will commence geothermal exploratory drilling this year.

Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Hayk Harutyunyan relayed the news during his report at the recent joint session of the National Assembly committees regarding the “performance” of the 2015 State Budget of Armenia.

According to Harutyunyan, the exploratory drilling will search for underground hot water resources in southern Armenia. If the results prove positive, a geothermal power station is slated to be constructed on location, providing baseload renewable energy.

“We will start the exploration already this year,” Harutyunyan explained. “Probably in the second half of June.”

Things are looking promising for geothermal in Armenia.

Netherlands – Municipality Pledges Over $2 Million for District Heating Project

The province of Groningen has announced the granting of a loan of EUR 2 million ($2.2 million) for the development of a geothermal heating network in the city of Groningen.

Groningen is the largest city in the northern region of the Netherlands and the capital of the province with the same name. Around 200,000 people call Groningen their home.

It is projected that the project could end up providing heating for about 11,000 households. It is developed by the municipality and the local Water Company.

Within five years, it is expected that geothermal heating could be connected to the households from a resource at the local Zernike Campus, a university campus in the city.

The project aims to drill to a depth of approximately 3,000 meters to harness hot water resources for heating purposes. Despite the high cost to develop the system, it is expected to provide some long term value to the community in the form of a clean and sustainable energy source.


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