Joint Collaboration towards Harnessing Geothermal Power

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Ngumi confers with the Kyushu University delegation during the meeting on the progress of the project.

With its considerable potential for power generation and reliable supply, geothermal power is progressively replacing hydropower, which is unreliable due to sporadic droughts, in Kenya.

In a move that will support this transition and provide the necessary expertise for sustainability, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kyushu University, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo Institute of Technology, West Japan Engineering Consultants, Inc. The University of Nairobi, Kenya Electricity Generating Company, Geothermal Development Company are all involved in a geo-thermal project that could be critical to this unique venture’s success.

The project christened, Comprehensive solutions for optimum development of geothermal systems in East African Rift Valley, aims to promote industry-academia collaboration to apply comprehensive solutions for sustainable development and utilization of geothermal resources specific to East African Rift Valley and strengthen research capacity of universities.

The Japan-funded initiative will not only provide the necessary equipment but also conduct training sessions for staff from JKUAT and UON on optimizing the operational efficiency of power plants. Additionally, it will explore strategies to enhance societal acceptance of geothermal heat usage by proposing various scenarios.

Speaking during a meeting with Kyushu University officials regarding the project’s advancement, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi expressed that the project has the potential to be significant in tackling the nation’s power crisis and offering a lasting solution in the future.

“This initiative is opportune because it might provide the long-term answer we require, particularly given the impact of climate change on our electricity output,” said Prof. Ngumi.

The Vice Chancellor further emphasized the university’s commitment to contributing solutions to national challenges, highlighting the potential significance of the initiative in providing enduring solutions and fostering sustainability for the nation’s future.

(L-R) Chair, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Dr. Peter Oketch, Prof. Keigo Kitamura, Project Lead, Prof. Yasuhiro Fujimitsu, The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Ngumi, Prof. Tatsunori Ikeda, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Administration and Finance, Prof. Bernard Ikua and Mr. Nautoshi Kurogi in a commemorative photo after the courtesy call.

The Project Lead, Kyushu University, Prof. Yasuhiro Fujimitsu lauded JKUAT for considering collaboration with Japanese institutions and acknowledged the significance of the project’s multidisciplinary approach.

“This initiative will help to develop geothermal resources in Eastern Africa while also preserving the global ecosystem. We believe there is a need to discover alternatives to hydropower, which is impacted by weather conditions,” said Prof. Fujimitsu.

Started in 2020 and scheduled for completion by March 2026, the project will concentrate on four key areas: geographical surveying, silica deposit production, direct geothermal utilization and societal acceptance, and human development initiatives.

Research will be conducted at the Menengai crater and the Olkaria Geothermal field, and as part of the project, participants will attend a conference in Japan as well as short training course on how to use the equipment.

JKUAT has received 20 seismometers, two gravity meters, and one Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) as part of the project, which will help with research in the two areas.

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