On the occasion of the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to be held in Yokohama on Aug. 28–30, the Japanese government will support geothermal power generation in Kenya, sources revealed on Aug. 19. Through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Kyushu University and a Kenyan university will conclude an agreement to cooperate in geothermal resource surveys, development, and usage. China has been increasing its influence in Kenya by exerting its presence through assistance in the areas of [geothermal facility] maintenance and management and human resources development, and Japan’s move will contain this Asian player.
As early as September, Kyushu University will form a contract with Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology on joint surveys and research in the Olkaria district, which lies about 120 kilometers northwest of Kenyan capital of Nairobi. The research period will be five years and will survey the amount of subterranean steam and hot water using artificial intelligence and other tools.
Kenya is a world leader in geothermal resources, and geothermal power generation accounts for over 40% of total power generation. If the mechanism for storing underground vapor were elucidated, it would contribute to the formulation of an energy mix plan for Kenya and the surrounding region.
Kyushu University has conducted research on geothermal power generation in Kyushu, which is [also] rich in geothermal resources. The university has also accepted technicians from Africa through JICA.
In the past, the Japanese government has supported orders for [power] plants built by Japanese manufacturers for Kenyan geothermal power generation projects through yen loans using low-interest financing. Going forward, Japan aims to link this to the export of high-level infrastructure that would include maintenance and management operations by bringing in Japanese power companies.