Kenya already gets half of their energy from hydropower, but with drought looming, the country is ramping up their geothermal energy production with a fourth geothermal power plant that captures energy from lava deep below the earth’s surface. Toshiba has been contracted to provide the majority of the equipment needed for the Japanese-funded plant, which will be constructed and online by April 2014. Once the plant is up and running, one quarter of Kenya’s power will be supplied by sustainable geothermal sources.

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Kenya’s three current geothermal power plants are located in the Olkaria volcanic region north of Nairobi. They currently supply 10% of the country’s power supply. In addition to building the new plant — which will be called Olkaria IV — the Toshiba equipment will up the power output of the current plants, bringing them all respectively to 70,000 kW of power production. With Kenya’s many volcanoes the country has a vast energy source laying in the bedrock beneath it — the country has decided to use that resource smartly to reduce its reliance on fuel.

In Kenya it has been common for droughts to occur in five or ten year cycles, but in recent years the droughts have been happening in two year cycles. The lack of water has caused massive food and water shortages, and a full half of the population is living on one meal a day. The government believes that building up Kenya’s geothermal power supply will help stabilize the country’s unreliable hydropower supply that is currently wavering the wake of a drought. Humanitarian relief from around the world is currently trickling into Kenya to help feed its population, unfortunately power relief doesn’t come so quickly and will have to wait over two years to come online.

Via Clean Technica