Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has spoken out in favor of greater use of geothermal energy as a source of energy in Germany. When visiting Africa's largest geothermal plant in Kenya, he said on Saturday: "It's also something that we in Germany can use, and we will do it." There is great potential in this climate-friendly energy production. "Geothermal energy is possible in many more places in Germany than many people think today," said Scholz.
The five power plants in Olkaria on the edge of Kenya's Hell's Gate National Park around 120 kilometers northwest of Nairobi have an installed capacity of around 800 megawatts. Geothermal energy plays a crucial role in Kenyan energy production. Kenya's location along the East African Rift Valley, formed by the separation of the Arabian Plate from the African Plate, and the region's volcanic activity offer the best conditions for this. The potential of geothermal energy in Kenya is estimated at 10 gigawatts, but it is still unclear whether this can also be fully exploited.
Germany could learn from Kenya when it comes to using its natural resources, said Scholz: "In Germany we don't have any volcanic regions like this one, but we have many areas and landscapes in which geothermal energy has good prerequisites." Therefore, the potential of the technology in Germany should be reassessed again, said Scholz: "The potential is rated highly. With modern technology, we also have the opportunity to better determine whether drilling will be successful." Both heat and electricity can be obtained from geothermal energy.
Kenya faster than Germany
The Chancellor was impressed that Kenya - sooner than planned - should be able to obtain all of its electricity production from renewable sources by 2030. "We have now made the decisions everywhere that are necessary so that we can achieve a pace to achieve our ambitious climate goals," Scholz said in reference to the Federal Republic. By 2030, Germany will be able to produce 80 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. Kenya's pioneering role must also be seen in context. According to the International Organization for Renewable Energies, the country only produces around 12 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity, while Germany, which is much more industrialized, produces almost 50 times as much.
Germany's involvement in green energy projects in Kenya - especially in the field of geothermal energy - has a long tradition. For more than 20 years, Germany has been investing in such projects, for example through the state development bank KfW and the Society for International Cooperation (GIZ). Germany also invested millions in the construction of the Olkaria geothermal plant.
In the future, Germany also wants to focus on establishing a hydrogen economy in Kenya. It is currently still questionable whether Germany can benefit from hydrogen imports from Kenya in the medium term. For Kenya, however, the green hydrogen that is produced with renewable electricity offers great potential. Above all, this includes the production of climate-friendly fertilizers for agriculture. Natural gas is still required for hydrogen production. Agriculture is a key economic sector in the East African country.
Kenya's President William Ruto already acknowledged Germany's support for the green energy industry on Friday: "The fact that 92 percent of the electricity from renewable sources flows through our grid is due to the substantial contributions made by German technology and German investments." At the same time, Ruto called on German politicians to do more internationally to ensure that the industrialized countries provide more investment in green energy projects in the Global South.