Sub-saharan Africa

Ormat: Using Kenya's Geothermal Resources to Generate Power

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Site: Kenya
Sector: Geothermal Power

Challenge: OrPower 4, a subsidiary of Ormat Technologies Inc., was seeking to expand its geothermal power plant in Kenya, but private lending was difficult to obtain given the risks commonly associated with developing countries, and the long-term financing requirements of infrastructure projects.

Solution: In 2011, OPIC approved up to $310 million in financing for the plant’s expansion.

Impact: The funding will enable the plant to double operating capacity and deliver at least 5% of Kenya’s total power demand. The geothermal plant (pictured) operates in Hell’s Gate National Park, a region abundant with hot springs, volcanoes and wildlife. It generates power using a proprietary technology that re-injects cooled water back into the reservoir to minimize the impact on the environment. As the picture shows, the plant was designed with its national park setting in mind: A pipeline transporting pressurized steam is elevated high above the ground to make way for giraffe migration.