Hot springs tapped for geothermal energy in a Kenyan national park
Hell’s Gate National Park in Kenya, named for its hot springs and volcanoes, is also the site of a geothermal power plant. On September 22, OPIC approved up to $310 million in financing to the plant’s operator to support an expansion that will double operating capacity and add clean energy to the country’s electricity grid.
The loan, to OrPower 4 Inc. a subsidiary of Nevada-based Ormat Technologies Inc., is also expected to generate 55 new local jobs in Kenya and lead to about $82 million in procurement of equipment from the U.S., which will support U.S. jobs.
The geothermal plant, which operates in a region abundant with wildlife, generates power using a proprietary technology that re-injects cooled water back into the reservoir to minimize the impact on the environment. The overall design of the plant was conceived with its national park setting in mind. As the photo shows, the pipeline that transports pressurized stream is elevated high above the ground in places, so that it does not disrupt giraffe migration.
“We are thrilled to be working with Ormat,” Mary Mervenne, director of structured finance at OPIC, said during the September 22 signing ceremony. “The project will support the expansion of a world class company. Dita (Ormat CEO Yehudit (Dita) Bronicki) and her husband have spent a lifetime building this fabulous business. Mervenne noted that, in addition to operating in developing countries, Ormat is also contributing to the production of renewable in the United States, which “badly needs cleaner energy.”
Starting with the installation of a solar pump in Mali in 1967, Ormat Chairman Lucien Bronicki, together with his wife, Dita, have worked for more than four decades on renewable energy projects around the world. “We had a mission and we really believed in it,” Dita Bronicki said at the signing ceremony.
She said that the OPIC loan served a financing challenge that private lenders were unable to meet, given the risks commonly associated with developing countries, and with long-term financing requirements of infrastructure projects.
Video: Ormat Energizes Kenya
(Pictured above, from left: Dita Bronicki, Ormat CEO; Marisa Lago, Assistant Secretary for International Markets and Development, U.S. Treasury; Mary Mervenne, OPIC Managing Director for Structured Finance; Mimi Alemayehou, OPIC Executive Vice President)