Olkaria I Geothermal Power Station, built in 1981 near Hell's Gate National Park, Kenya, was Africa's first geothermal power station. Geothermal exploitation supplies more than 4 million inhabitants and contributes to the fight against climate change because geothermal energy does not produce greenhouse gases.
Kenya is the seventh largest producer of geothermal energy in the world and is leading the way in East Africa in this endeavor. In 2019, Kenya's geothermal energy production capacity was 690 MW, with a target of reaching 5,530 MW by 2030 thanks to five power plants named Olkaria 1 to 5.
The Hell's Gate area was discovered by explorers Fisher and Thomson in 1883, taking its name from a narrow break in the cliffs, which was once a tributary of a prehistoric lake that nourished the early humans of the Rift Valley. Located 90 km northwest of Nairobi, the fracture is home to numerous hot springs and geysers, facilitating the establishment of geothermal power plants in the area.
Pléiades Neo imagery enables the mapping of geothermal power plants, the measurement of their activity and the tracking of their development.
The Olkaria I power plant started operating in 1981 with a production capacity of 15 MW:
In 1982 and 1985, two additional turbines identical to the first were put into service, bringing the produc-tion capacity to 45 MW7.
In January 2015, units 4 and 5, with a combined capacity of 140 mega-watts, were inaugurated.
In December 2018, unit 6, with a capacity of 83 megawatts, brought the total capacity of this geothermal power plant to 273.7 MW.
Olkaria II was commissioned in 2003. In 2010, a unit with a capacity of 35 MW was added, bringing the total capacity to 105 megawatts.
The Olkaria III power plant started operations in 2000, with a production capacity of 13 MW. From 2009 to 2014, three new infrastructures were installed, bringing the total capacity of the plant to 110 MW4. A fourth generation unit, with a capacity of 26 MW, was commissioned in 2016, bring-ing the total capacity of the plant to 139 MW.
The Olkaria III power plant’s hot water pumping areas.