Now We're Cooking with Steam! **
By Baljit Wadhwa, GEF Evaluation Office
Development of Geothermal Energy in Kenya: The role of the Joint Geophysical Imaging (JGI) Project on the Road to Impact
Kenya, Africa's first nation to drill for geothermal power, is seeking to tap the Rift Valley's vast steam reserves, estimated to contain between 7 and 10 gigawatts of geothermal power potential, to access a clean, reliable and abundant source of energy. Determining the best places and methods to drill for this power arising from the earth's core is no easy feat, but oh-so-important to reduce the otherwise prohibitive costs of exploration.
Implemented by UNEP and active between July 2002 and June 2008, the Joint Geophysical Imaging (JGI) for Geothermal Reservoir Assessment project received a GEF grant of US$979,059, an additional US$1.22 million from partner Kenya Electricity Generating Company Ltd. (KenGen) and additional cofinancing of US$1.75 million for a total budget of US$2.73 million. The JGI project objective was to generate methods to increase the efficiency of geophysical exploration, thereby reducing the upfront costs of producing this renewable energy and thus increasing its production and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
The project activities centered on:
In October 2011, the GEF Evaluation Office (GEF EO) undertook a mission seeking to verify the information in the terminal evaluation as well as assess the project's progress to beneficial impact. At the time of the project's completion, the project had achieved its objectives and received a rating of "moderately satisfactory" for effectiveness, but was tagged as having a "moderately likely" chance that sustainability of outcomes was at risk. Prior to the mission GEF EO reviewed project documents and secondary literature as background to discussions with past and present project stakeholders. The main focus of the meetings was to ask after the role of the JGI technology in the development of geothermal energy as well as current capacity of individuals and institutions to spur it to greater scale.
The GEF Evaluation Office was able to independently verify the following project results to date:
The need for detailed exploration and the high cost and risk of exploratory drilling, compounded by institutional and regulatory barriers, have prevented the past exploitation of geothermal energy in the region. The Evaluation Office's verification of the JGI project results found considerable evidence of progress towards impact, i.e. realization of global environmental benefits by increasing Kenya's proportion of electricity production from geothermal sources and the associated reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. GEF's support to developing the JGI methodology has inspired geothermal activities in the region with potential for the far reaching benefits of clean, local energy.
The GEF Evaluation Office views efforts by the GEF and its partners to remain engaged in geothermal energy development in Kenya as critical to the country's progress to impact and for addressing remaining institutional and technical barriers.
** Although common place today, gas stoves have not always been the norm. Gas stoves started to be available in the 1800's, and until that time wood stoves were the standard. “Now you're cooking with gas" is an American Idiom that comes from an old advertisement for gas stoves.
 Although common place today, gas stoves have not always been the norm. Gas stoves started to be available in the 1800's, and until that time wood stoves were the standard. "Now you're cooking with gas" is an American Idiom that comes from an old advertisement for gas stoves.
 Dr. Peter E. Malin, Professor & Director of the Institute of Earth Science and Engineering, University of Auckland, New Zealand, along with his colleague and former student from the JGI project, Dr. Stephen Onacha, have been particularly prolific in their papers and lectures on the application of Joint Geophysical Imaging for fractured reservoirs for geothermal resources.
 Views expressed by senior staff at KenGen, Geothermal Development Company and UNEP.
 As of October 2010, the World Bank is supporting an Electricity Expansion Project in Kenya, expected to channel a total investment of US$1,391 million, of which the World Bank's International Development Association (IDA), is providing US$330 million, to expand energy access with clean geothermal power and new transmission lines. To replicate the success of geothermal development in Kenya, throughout the region, an African Rift Geothermal Facility (ARGeo) for financial risk mitigation was established with support from the GEF. The project, initiated by six countries - Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania is currently on hold.