Power generating company Kengen has started construction of a 280MW geothermal plant in Kenya.

The facility is expected to become the largest geothermal plant in East Africa; it is scheduled to be complete and commissioned in April 2014.

Kengen managing director Eddy Njoroge told the Daily Nation that all was going according to plan. "This will ensure we achieve our objective of getting half of our power from geothermal sources by 2018," he said.

In 2010, the company signed a deal to receive $1.3bn in funding from New Zealand-based Sinclair Knight towards construction of the plant. These funds were provided by a consortium consisting of Japan International Co-operation Agency, the French Development Agency, the European Investment Bank, World Bank and a German owned development bank.

The loan will allow Kengen to extend the Olkaria I and II plants, which currently produce 115MW of energy.

Kengen must raise $4.5bn to generate 1,200MW from geothermal wells in Olkaria and Menengai. These projects will increase the use of geothermal power in the country.

Kenya has an estimated potential of between 7,000MW and 10,000MW of geothermal energy, with only 200MW currently being tapped into.