02 April 2011

Remarks at visit to Olkaria Geothermal Facility

Ban Ki-moon

Your Excellency Mr. Kiraitu Murungi, Minister for Energy,
Your Excellency Mr. George Saitoti, Minister for Internal Security and Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Mr. Ed Njoroge, Managing Director, Kenya Electricity Generating Company,
Mr. Nicholas Mariita, Manager, Olkaria Geothermal Plant,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It has been a fascinating privilege to learn today how Kenya is tapping the volcanic heat of the Great Rift Valley to generate electricity.

Kenya is not rich in oil, natural gas or coal reserves.

But it is has a wealth of “clean fuels” -- from geothermal energy, to wind, solar and biomass.

The geothermal developments here aim to generate 1,200 megawatts by 2018.

This is, in many ways, the beginning of what promises to be a 20-year journey that could make Kenya a low-carbon, resource-efficient “green economy”.

It is a remarkable story – not just in terms of renewable energy and climate change – but in partnership for development.

It is among a growing number of examples of how the United Nations, the World Bank, donor governments and the private sector are supporting forward-looking public policies – policies that can help to reduce poverty and lay the foundations for a truly sustainable future.

In the past few days I have learned about the development of the biggest wind farm in sub-Saharan Africa – a project in Turkana that will generate more than 300 megawatts.

Kenya's 2030 vision also includes waste-into-energy projects, co-generation and feed-in tariffs, and ongoing work with UNEP and other partners to support the tea industry with small-scale hydro power.

And the UN's own new energy-neutral offices in Gigiri, which we unveiled on Thursday with President Kibaki, underline the viability of solar power.

One of the technical challenges Kenya faces is how to integrate all these emerging components of a renewable energy economy into an efficient, modern distribution network.

While geothermal can provide reliable energy like a coal-fired power station, other renewable resources can be more unpredictable and intermittent.

UNEP and the Global Environment Facility are working with Government, regulators and power companies to address this through improved generation and distribution.

Done efficiently and creatively, this can help to catalyze renewable energy not just in Kenya, but as part of the planned East Africa Power Pool.

As Kenya – and many other countries – are showing, there is a growing menu of economically-viable choices for generating energy.

Next year governments meet in Brazil for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development – 20 years after the Rio Earth Summit of 1992.

Rio+20 is a major opportunity to take stock.

To examine how to connect the dots between energy, food, water and climate.

To look at how we can grow economies and generate decent employment in a way that keeps humanity's footprint within planetary boundaries.

To explore how to scale up renewable resources and other low-carbon technologies.

To mobilize the world in pursuit of truly sustainable development.

I would like to thank the government of Kenya and the staff here at Olkaria for showing me part of Vision 2030 here in the Rift Valley.

It was here, long ago, where humanity took some of its first faltering steps.

Today, Kenya is helping to evolve the solutions that may help us to thrive long into the future.

Thank you.