10 Years in Kenya – The Geothermal Success Story of GEG

Overhead view of geothermal power plant in Kenya

10 years in Kenya – the successful implementation of a geothermal wellhead plant strategy and development by GEG ehf. for KenGen at Olkaria


Reykjavik – October 2021 – With the win of a tender for a 5.5 MW geothermal pilot plant in late 2009, Green Energy Geothermal International ltd. (a part of GEG ehf. since 2020) entered the international geothermal energy market with the new concept of modular geothermal development with small geothermal wellhead power plants.

From those early beginnings and the start of construction in 2010/ 2011, GEG ehf. and its acquired assets have today delivered a total of 85.6 MW in geothermal power generation capacity in Kenya and Iceland. For KenGen (Kenya Electricity Generating Company PLC), GEG and its assets built 15 wellhead power plants as well as delivered and set up several substations.

Of the sixteen plants built by GEG, fifteen of those were built for KenGen, as well as one for Landsvirkjun, in GEG‘s home country of Iceland.


A Timeline of GEG’s Impact in Kenya

It has now been ten years since the Green Energy Geothermal International ltd. pilot plant began commercial operations. Impressively, between April 2011 to March 2017, Green Energy Geothermal International ltd. built one 5.5 MW pilot plant along with four 6.4 MW and ten 5 MW geothermal wellhead plants on seven different well pads at the Olkaria geothermal field in Kenya.

These plants today represent around 12% of the installed geothermal power generation capacity of KenGen and around 9% of the total geothermal power generation capacity of Kenya (and Africa), showcasing GEG and its aquired asset’s significant market impact.

Implementing this strategy has helped utilise geothermal resources at Olkaria efficiently with limited impact to the natural environment. All the components for the plants were shipped in 40 ft. marine containers to the sites, removing the need for extensive additional road construction as is typically required for the drilling rigs which drill the wells on-site.

The wellhead plants also allow for the utilisation of remote wells, with better efficiency in the use of the resource on site and the flexibility to adapt the power generation to the individual wells.

In the beginning of the collaboration between Green Energy Geothermal International ltd. and KenGen, the efficient way challenges and limitations with the initial 5.5 MW power plant were tackled set the bar for this successful partnership. For example, a change in the turbine manufacturer led to the installation of new, more effective turbines, and erecting new high-voltage evacuation lines solved the instability of the previous medium-voltage lines.

KenGen’s foresight in exploring and problem-solving aspects of this smaller scale distributed development approach — which allows for easier financing, faster deployment, and therewith quicker return — must be applauded.

This modular approach to development provided a faster and more efficient way for KenGen to apply funding and to create a more streamlined income path from geothermal power production.


Geothermal plant in the middle of a forest in Olkaria
GEG’s 5.5 MW pilot plant built for KenGen at Olkaria
The Views from GEG

“We are incredibly proud of the partnership with KenGen and the company entrusting us in the implementation of this revolutionary modular wellhead power plant strategy. With the pilot plant and additional 14 plants then built by [GEG], either as stand-alone plants or in clusters of up to 5 units, we not only gained a lot of insight, but also the experience needed for our international expansion. With the work at Olkaria, we not only created a faster path to revenue generation, but also helped to mitigate up to 2 million tonnes of carbon emissions from fossil fuel-based generation in Kenya”, said Sigthor Jonsson, CEO of GEG.

“We are very much looking forward to continuing to work with KenGen in Kenya, as well as exploring further geothermal wellhead plant development in Kenya together with KenGen”, states Snorri Einarsson, CTO of GEG.


The View from KenGen

In a case study presentation on the geothermal wellhead power plants of Kenya Electricity Generating PLC (KenGen) at the Iceland Geothermal Conference in 2018, Peter Chege, Assistant Manager, responsible for the Geothermal Wellhead plants at KenGen, provided an insight into how the company successfully developed and implemented its geothermal wellhead strategy.

In the 2018 presentation, the various challenges (and subsequent solutions) of the modular approach taken by Green Energy Geothermal International ltd. and KenGen, were also outlined. These ranged from issues related to mobility to those involving limited reinjection. In the case of the mobility challenge described in the presentation, solutions included employing various design improvements and redesigning of specific components, along with utilizing containerized plant systems (for example, substations and cooling tower cells).

The limited reinjection of modular plants was effectively addressed by means of locating several plants on one single well pad. This way, a closer connection to the closest reinjection system was achieved. The presentation concluded by stating that the wellhead implementation strategy would be fast-tracked, and that it would undergo continued improvements to further address specific challenges.

Based on the “successful implementation, KenGen wants to fast track the wellhead implementation strategy and a continued improvement of the strategy. With its experience, KenGen also believes it can provide consultancy/project implementation to other utilities in the region in partnership with GEG”, said Peter Chege at the conference.

Today, the plants provide a significant annual revenue to KenGen, helping the company to repay the investment into the plants, said Peter Chege in his presentation at the conference in 2018.


Kenyan president commissioning wellhead plants in Olkaria
President of Kenya, H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta officially commissions KenGen’s wellhead plants built by GEG at Olkaria, May 2017
GEG’s Plans for the Future

With its unique business model, GEG and its acquired assets pioneered the approach of delivering turnkey modular geothermal power plants as a complete package, from the well to the connection to the transmission line. GEG ehf. designs, engineers, and provides the necessary construction work, assembly on-site, and commissioning in one package. This has enabled GEG to speed up development and support a faster return on investment for geothermal projects, while providing flexibility in the build-out of the plants.

The company has shifted focus from the delivery of a complete turnkey power plant development package to clients, to a new development approach through joint ventures with international partners for more efficient implementation.

Following this shift, GEG is now acting as a development partner and investor in projects, combining its project delivery experience with the exploration knowledge of internationally acclaimed geothermal exploration service partners.

There has been a lot of work going on in the background and GEG ehf. will be pleased to be able to share details about its ongoing project development efforts globally.


Five of KenGen’s geothermal wellhead plants built by GEG on wellpad WH914 at Olkaria with a combined capacity of 27.8 MW (2×6.4 MW and 3×5 MW)
What is the Modular Approach?

Traditional geothermal power plant development has typically been focused on large scale development requiring an extensive drilling program, steam gathering and delivery systems, and then the development of large-scale geothermal plants.

This more traditional development has typically taken between 7 to 10 years to reach completion, contributing to a low average annual generation capacity growth. The traditional approach also entails several challenges. Among them are the resource risk, both in the context of proving the resource’s viability for power generation as well as the financing risk of being able to fund the extensive drilling campaign and the corresponding large-scale power plant and related infrastructure.

Therefore, the development of projects in steps in a modular approach is seen as a tool to address some of these aspects. Smaller plants, or specifically wellhead plants, could be built right after the drilling of the initial wells and allow for a faster set up of plants and the production of electricity. This not only allows for better efficiency due to the plant being streamlined to utilise the resource of these wells on site, but potentially provides electricity to the further drilling campaign in the field, and most importantly speeds up the generation of revenues from the operation.

As a result, the financing of the development of a field looks completely different. The income from revenues could be used for getting a loan for further development instead of having to rely on equity funding. In a presentation at the Iceland Geothermal Conference in 2018, Green Energy Geothermal International ltd. shared details on how a modular approach to development can help decrease the equity requirements for geothermal project development.

If the resource is proven then it can supply that small plant, and if it does not then the financial burden is not as devastating as if a whole large-scale drilling campaign were to fail. At the same time, it could allow efficient scaling up of development if there are better resources found. A modular approach also allows development in more remote locations with a lower footprint per installed MW of generation capacity. This clearly results in a lower impact on the environment surrounding the locations of the plants.


Awards and Certifications

Bloomberg award    ISO 9001-2015 Certified logo

For its pioneering work on geothermal wellhead power generation, Green Energy Geothermal International ltd. received two prestigious awards. In 2014, the company was named a New Energy Pioneer by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), which highlighted the “game changing innovation“ of the awardees from a broad range of industries on energy efficiency, renewable energy, innovative finance and more.

In 2015, Green Energy Geothermal International ltd. was the runner-up to the European Geothermal Innovation Award by the European Geothermal Energy Council, which emphasized the “innovative business model and global technology approach for small-scale geothermal power plants in high enthalpy zones” by the company.

Through the work on the Olkaria geothermal wellhead plants, Green Energy Geothermal International ltd. then also developed substation set ups for easy transport and timely set up with its plants. This helped KenGen to connect the plants quicker to the local grid. It has today also helped GEG ehf. to expand its product offering beyond the plant and construction thereof, and now including larger, mobile substations that can be set up swiftly with the geothermal wellhead plants.


Our Impact for Local Communities

Geothermal energy development involves local opportunities as well as challenges. GEG understands the importance of sustainability in the context of local development. With the approach of localised wellhead development, the company operates on a low footprint for plants minimizing the visual and structural impact to the environment to the benefit of local populations.

In the development of its 15 plants in Kenya, GEG and its acquired assets were engaged with the local workforce both for civil works, construction, and training of operators for KenGen on site. However, the company also understands its responsibility beyond the construction of the plants. In Kenya, GEG and its assets not only trained local staff on the operation of the plants it had installed for KenGen, but also engaged with the local population, supporting among others a local school with the donation of books upon learning of a shortage of teaching materials.

“Working locally with the Maasai Community has been an elementary part of our activities at Olkaria and it was humbling to see how the provision of these books was so positively received by the school children and their teachers”, said Green Energy Geothermal International ltd.‘s local project manager at the time. On a smaller scale, the company also engaged in wildlife conservation, supporting among others a local elephant conservation center.


GEG and Maasai school ceremony
School ceremony with GEG staff and local Maasai school representatives, November 2014

“GEG is looking back at the past ten years with pride of its partnership with KenGen. Helping the company on the development of 15 geothermal wellhead power plants and thereby implementing KenGen‘s strategy on localised modular geothermal plant development has been an honour,” said the company in a statement to ThinkGeoEnergy.

It clearly put the concept of modular development with geothermal wellhead power plants on the map. There are several efforts to apply a similar concept to the development of geothermal projects, but so far, no company has the experience in the development, construction, or operation of these plants.

The operation of the wellhead plants at Olkaria has gone smoothly and with good experience, which resulted in the continued cooperation today of GEG with KenGen in relation to operating and maintenance and technical support, as well as for potential further wellhead development in Kenya.

With its adapted business model, GEG ehf. has now moved beyond the pure delivery, construction, and commissioning of geothermal wellhead plants, also engaging with partners on development of its own projects. These are exciting times in the geothermal sector, and a unique business model approach like that of GEG clearly has a role in the further development of geothermal energy projects around the world.


About GEG

GEG ehf. is an Iceland geothermal development company with strong experience in delivering turn-key geothermal power plant solutions from wellhead to transmission line connection. The company has a strong experience in the design, engineering, delivery, and construction of 16 geothermal power plants in Kenya and Iceland. With the development and delivery of 85.6 MW in modular geothermal wellhead power plants, the company has been a pioneer in faster development of geothermal projects, and a modular development approach providing flexibility in funding of projects and further build out. The company’s geothermal plants are estimated to have helped to avoid close to 3 million tons of CO₂ emissions since they began operation.

Website: www.gegpower.is

Sigthor Jónsson
GEG ehf.
Tel: +354 858 6688
Email: sigthor.jonsson@geg.is

GEG Awarded Highest Level of Green Certification from CICERO Green in Preparation for Bond Issuance

Based on the review performed by CICERO Green (CICERO) earlier this year, GEG Power’s green financing framework (GFF) was awarded Dark Green — the highest available rating!

CICERO also gave the company a governance score of “Good”. The framework was overall found to be in alignment with CICERO’s green bond and loan principles.


Now, GEG can move forward with its preparations for green bond issuing and financing, bolstered by its commitment to low environmental impacts and project-to-project LCA assessments.

See our full GFF CICERO second opinion document here as well as under our Governance page.

CICERO Shades of Green offers award-winning second opinions to give insight to investors on the environmental quality of green bonds. They were named the largest Green Bond SPO provider of 2019.

GEG Joins International Partners in Development of Geothermal Project in Chile

Today, ThinkGeoenergy announced that Dutch Transmark Renewables and Icelandic partners GEG and North Tech Energy will collaborate on the modular development of the Adobera geothermal project, within the Peumayén geothermal concession located in Southern Chile as announced by the companies.

Transmark Chile, a subsidiary of Dutch Transmark Renewables, initially secured an exploration license for the Peumayén concession in early 2018. They prepared a comprehensive development plan after carefully evaluating available data from earlier exploratory activities on the flanks of the Tolhuaca volcano, and after completing additional studies and fieldwork. Transmark Chile was then granted a geothermal exploitation license which allowed for the development of the project. Earlier this year, the project company, Adobera SpA, secured co-financing of 9.8M EUR through the GDF facility funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the development bank KfW.

Now, Transmark and its Icelandic partners have established a joint venture to go ahead with the ambitious development plan for the project.

After the confirmation drilling campaign set to take place next year, the initial development plan foresees a modular approach of the first power plant with a power generation capacity of up to 3 MWe, planned to be operating with a start date in 2023 – within less than three years from the initial reconnaissance studies –  and 9MWe with a start date in 2024.

This new partnership builds upon its partners’ extensive experience in geothermal development. Earlier this year, Transmark Renewables started commercial operation of a 3.2 MW geothermal power plant in Canakkale, Turkey. The company has additional geothermal development projects in Turkey and Chile, and is exploring the potential for development in the Netherlands. Icelandic geothermal development company GEG has successfully designed, developed, and commissioned 16 geothermal power plants in Kenya and Iceland, with a combined power generation capacity of 86 MW. North Tech Energy has been involved in numerous geothermal projects in Iceland, Rwanda, the Philippines and Indonesia, providing drilling and related services, and is advancing its project development in Indonesia.

Company Insights:

Transmark Renewables – “We are looking forward to working with our Icelandic partners building upon their great experience in drilling and geothermal power plant development. Our combined experience and skills are going to help in the development of our Adobera geothermal project,” says Frederik Kam, CEO of Transmark Renewables.

GEG – “With our step into wider international geothermal development beyond the supply and construction of our geothermal wellhead power plant solution, we are glad to partner with Transmark Renewables and NTE. We believe that our approach to a modular development will help to push a fast development of the exciting Tolhuaca project,” says Sigthor Jónsson, CEO of GEG.

NTE – “Chile with its great geothermal resources provides a great opportunity for us to spread our work that has focused so far on Southeast Asia and Africa. We are very much looking forward working with our partners Transmark Renewables and GEG. These are exciting times and we are proud to be part of this joint venture at Tolhuaca and beyond in the future,” says Geir Hagalínsson, CEO of North Tech Energy.

Transmark Renewables is an international family-owned company with its headquarters in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. It specializes in the development of renewable geothermal energy projects internationally. The company has an operating geothermal power plant in Canakkale, Turkey, and several geothermal licenses and projects under development in Chile, Turkey, and the Netherlands.

The operations and development of its Chilean projects are run by Transmark’s Chilean subsidiary, Transmark Chile.

GEG Power is an Icelandic geothermal development company with a strong experience in delivering turn-key geothermal power plant solutions from wellhead to transmission line connection. The company has a strong experience in the design, engineering, delivery, and construction of 16 geothermal power plants in Kenya and Iceland. With the development and delivery of 85.6 MW in modular geothermal wellhead power plants, the company has been a pioneer in faster development of geothermal projects, and of a modular development approach providing flexibility in the funding of projects and further build out.

North Tech Energy (NTE) is a geothermal drilling and services firm with its headquarter in Iceland, a daughter company in Indonesia, and operations in Africa. The company is uniquely specialised in standard and slim well drilling for both exploration and production purposes.

Interview With Our Chief Research Officer on GEG’s Direct Use Plans in India

This year, ThinkGeoenergy posted an eye-opening interview with GEG’s CRO, Dr. Vijay Chauhan, on our ongoing development plans for geothermal direct use in the Northern Himalayas region of India. This project will involve using geothermal cooling technology, or cold storage, powered by the low-temperature geothermal resources in the area.

This will allow for the longer-term storage of apples in the region for local farmers, strengthening their food security and therefore the social sustainability of the area. The GEG Cooling project is partly funded by the Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Watch ThinkGeoenergy’s interview with Dr. Chauhan below to learn more about this exciting and innovative project!



Be sure to follow GEG Power’s YouTube page for more updates and special features.


Iceland geothermal video features GEG plant

A recent video shared by Icelandic cooperation platform on climate issues and green solutions, Green by Ice­land, provides a good overview on geothermal energy in Iceland.

“Iceland has harnessed the potential of geothermal energy, heating 90% of its houses and producing 30% of its electricity with geothermal. Geothermal energy is very important in Iceland that relies 100% on renewables for both electricity and house heating.

The cascading use of geothermal was also pioneered in Iceland and has created new industries in Iceland through the circular economy mindset of making the most of each resource. Icelandic expertise in geothermal is also a valuable export product.”

… and we are proud to see one of our geothermal wellhead plants built in Kenya featured in the video.

GEG wins grant for research on low-temp geothermal project in India

GEG is proud to announce that we have won an ISK 30 million grant from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Iceland.

We will be exploring if low-temperature geothermal energy could be used as an energy source for the cold storage for apples. The grant is provided by the Business Partnership Fund for the United Nations’ Global Goals, to Icelandic GEG. The project is to be completed by the end of 2023.

According to Snorri Einarsson, CTO of GEG, the intention is to use that energy to run a steam-powered cold room. “We want to use that technology to run cold storage for apples. The direct use of geothermal energy for cooling is a cheaper way to cool the apples than to use electricity, ” he says.

According to Vijay Chauhan, CRO of GEG, “there are no cold storage in the district as of today. Therefore, farmers are often forced to sell apples at lower prices during the harvest season instead of being able to store them in refrigerators and sell them over a longer period of time, thus creating more value for society.”

The project is linked to four of the seventeen United Nations Global Goals: the Sustainable Energy Goal (7); the goal of good employment and economic growth (8); the goal of greater equality (10) and the goal of climate action (13).