How Kenya is harnessing the immense heat from the Earth

DM

In the volcanic region of East Africa’s Great Rift Valley, tectonic shifts are tearing the continent apart – and releasing unimaginable quantities of clean energy. Drive along the dusty dirt road that winds through Kenya’s Hell’s Gate National park, past the zebra, gazelles and giraffes, and you’ll see a plume of steam shooting skyward in the distance. Vehicles must sometimes swerve to avoid running over warthogs as they enter a vast valley dotted with dozens of steam vents – a factory of clouds. Blasts of steam billow loudly, releasing heat from deep within the Earth. But even more powerful is the steam you don’t see: that which twists through miles of tubes to push past turbines, generating a type of clean energy that won’t run out for millions of years. Atop this infernal labyrinth of tubes is Kenya’s Olkaria Geothermal Project, where a new addition to the powerplant is about to go online. At 86 megawatts, the Olkaria VI expansion will push the project’s total production to 791.5 megawatts.

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