Africa-focussed independent power company Globeleq announced on Thursday that it broke ground for the 35 megawatts (MW) Menengai geothermal project in Kenya with its project partner Geothermal Development Company (GDC).

The ground-breaking ceremony in Nakuru County, hosted by Paul Ngugi, CEO of GDC, was attended by Rigathi Gachagua, Deputy President of Kenya; Davis Chirchir, Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Energy & Petroleum; Jane Marriott, British High Commissioner to Kenya and Mike Scholey, Globeleq's CEO.

The $108 million greenfield project is Globeleq's first-ever geothermal plant and the UK-based company's second project in Kenya alongside the Malindi solar plant, it said in a press statement.

Globeleq said it expects the Menengai project to reach financial close within the next two to three weeks, subject to the remaining conditions precedent being fulfilled by the Kenyan government. 

The company will operate and maintain the power plant once it reaches commercial operations in 2025.

The statement said the state-owned GDC would supply steam to the project for conversion to electricity under a 25-year project implementation and steam supply agreement. Once the plant is operational, electricity will be sold to Kenya Power, the national distribution company, under a power purchase agreement (PPA) for the same timeframe.

Toyota Tsusho Corporation from Japan is the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractor for the project. Fuji Electric will be manufacturing and supplying the steam turbine and generator.

GDC posted on its Twitter account that the 105MW Menengai project is being developed by three Independent Power Producers (IPP), generating 35MW each. It said Globeleq is the second IPP at the project site and is implementing the project through Globeleq Geothermal Kenya Limited. Globeleq's geothermal power plant will increase the Menengai project's total capacity to 70MW.

The first IPP, Sosian Menengai Geothermal Power, is scheduled to start operations in June 2023, geothermal industry news portal ThinkGeoenergy reported in May 2023.

The Menengai complex is the second large-scale geothermal field under development in Kenya after Olkaria.

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(Writing by SA Kader; Editing by Anoop Menon)