OPIC Board Approves $310 Million for Geothermal Project in Kenya
September 22, 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government’s development finance institution, today approved up to $310 million in financing for a project that will double the generating capacity of a geothermal power plant in Kenya, adding new electricity to the country’s grid through the use of environmentally-friendly American technology, and creating both American and Kenyan jobs in the process.
In so doing, the project will support the Kenyan Government’s effort to develop country’s extensive geothermal resources in order to reduce reliance on hydroelectric power generation and provide low-cost base load energy. Considered one of the most environmentally friendly power-generating technologies, geothermal power production emits negligible greenhouse gases and other air pollutants.
OrPower 4, Inc., a subsidiary of Ormat Technologies, Inc. a Nevada-based company, will use the OPIC loan to add up to 52 megawatts of generating capacity to the existing 48 MW Olkaria geothermal plant in Kenya’s Rift Valley, approximately 75 kilometers northwest of Nairobi. The expansion will involve modifications to components of the existing plant, additions to the Olkaria steam gathering and injection system, and development of the geothermal reservoir to support the expansion.
Ormat will use its own proprietary binary cycle technology involving Organic Rankine cycle turbines that are air-cooled and run on the heat energy from geothermal fluid extracted from geothermal reserves. Re-injecting cooled water into the reservoir results in minimal impact on the environment from the energy production process and requires limited external water use.
The project is expected to generate 55 new local jobs, among them 26 professional/technical staff and 28 unskilled workers. It will also result in initial U.S. procurement of $82 million, which is expected to support 323 person-years of direct employment and 212 person-years of indirect employment, supporting approximately 107 U.S. jobs.
“Doubling the capacity of this geothermal plant – which emits negligible greenhouse gases and is therefore one of the most environmentally-friendly power-generating technologies available – is an important step forward for Kenya’s economic growth, as well as for the global shift to a lower carbon economy,” said OPIC President and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield. “The fact that the project uses American technology to do so, and creates jobs in both the U.S. and Kenya, makes it a win-win situation for all involved.”
Ormat Technologies designs, builds, owns and operates geothermal power plants in the United States, Nicaragua, Kenya and Guatemala; as of February 2011, the company had installed generation capacity of 553 MW.