Impact of the Location and Development of the Geothermal Power Plants Olkaria with Emphasis on Land Use Activities

Geothermal Energy is a natural form of energy stored deep in the earth's hot rocks and waters within the fractured rocks. It is fairly widespread in the world mostly within continental plate margins. It has been put into use for several centuries but commercially; the world's first geothermal power plant was built at Larderello Italy in 1901 and is still generating. In Africa, Kenya is the first country to utilize this technology for power generation in the Rift Valley at Olkaria Naivasha. The geothermal energy potential in Kenya is more than 3000 Mega watts [mw].


Geothermal power development involves the extractions of steam at depths of up to 2800m. The steam is then transported using pipes to the powerhouse for the electricity generation. At Olkariia alone the geothermal potential is more than 700 mw and currently only 122 mw are being generated from three of the seven identified fields. The study sets out to examine the impacts of geothermal power development on land use and environment in Olkaria, Naivasha Kenya. The study observed that the power development has direct, indirect, as well as positive and negative impacts. Various sources of data including secondary and primary data, personal observations, photography, land use survey, and focused group discussions were utilized in the study. A data checklist was constructed whereby various environmental components were identified and matched against impact sources. It was observed that the stages of geothermal development from reconnaissance, plant development to exploitation have impacts on land use and environment. The development was also observed to stimulate the Local and National economy.

Recommendations were given based on findings of the study. It has been recommended that planning for geothermal development should be incorporated in the local area development plans and the preparation of one such a plan for the area should be prepared as a matter of urgency.