To address Africa’s current and future energy needs, the African Development Bank (AfDB), in a “New Deal on Energy for Africa,” wants to help the continent get its hands on all its energy resources, including the 15 gigawatts of geothermal energy under the surface.
The Menengai Geothermal Development Project
The Menengai geothermal development project is located in the Rift Valley, about 180KM northwest of Nairobi. Through the development, the AfDB seeks to harness the potential of the Menengai geothermal steam field (an active volcano crater) in generating150 MW of clean, reliable and affordable electricity annually so as to meet the growing energy needs of Kenyan households, businesses and industries.
Menengai Crater in Kenya is an extinct volcano that has become active. This time it will not be spewing hot lava, but clean and affordable electricity.
Kenya and Ethiopia are the only African countries that produce geothermal energy, which now generates more than one-fifth of Kenya’s electricity. The Great Rift Valley has significant unexploited geothermal resources.
Geothermal Energy – Electricity from Steam
Geothermal energy is thermal energy generated and stored in the Earth. Thermal energy is the energy that determines the temperature of matter. The geothermal energy of the Earth’s crust originates from the original formation of the planet and from radioactive decay of materials. The geothermal gradient, which is the difference in temperature between the core of the planet and its surface, drives a continuous conduction of thermal energy in the form of heat from the core to the surface. Resources of geothermal energy range from the shallow ground to hot water and hot rock found a few miles beneath the Earth’s surface, and down even deeper to the extremely high temperatures of molten rock called magma.
Steam from beneath the earth (geothermal reservoir) is used to run steam turbines that generate electricity.
The amount of heat within 10,000 meters (about 33,000 feet) of earth’s surface, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, “contains 50,000 times more energy than all the oil and natural gas resources in the world.”
This Energy unlike energy from fossil is clean and sustainable.