Rwanda is planning an investment of up to $1 billion for the development of up to 300 MW in geothermal power generation capacity by 2017 with Japan, China and European interests in supporting development.
A recent article discusses the ambitious plans of African Rwanda to develop its geothermal energy resources. From currently 69 MW of overall electricity generation capacity installed, the country is in dire need to expand its power generation rapidly to fuel growing demand of not only focused on economic development but also to bring electricity to the 86% of its population that does not have access to electricity yet.
Rwanda is located on the East African Rift Valley, one of the world’s largest geothermal resources covering a wide array of country across Eastern Africa.
The potential for power generation is estimated at about 15,000 MW, with only Kenya and Ethiopia currently producing power from geothermal energy.
Rwanda’s region with most geothermal potential is the country’s Virunga volcanic zones in the north and hot springs in the western part of the nation.
Rwanda’s Energy Ministry is targeting a geothermal power generation capacity of 310 MW with an investment need of $935 million.
The cost for initial three exploration wells and preparatory work is expected to be around $30 million. Other energy sources such as hydropower, methane gas, solar etc. are also being explored to bring the overall power generation capacity of the country to 1,000 MW by 2017.
There are several countries that have raised interest in supporting Rwanda. Japan has recently sent experts on a fact finding mission with Japan’s International Cooperation Agency (JICA) willing to support the country to utilize its geothermal resources.
China is also showing interest and the country already has signed a “a contract with a Chinese firm, China Petroleum Technology and Development Corporation (CPTDC) to supply drilling materials to the tune of $7 million.”
Initial scientific studies on the potential for geothermal energy utilization has been carried out by Auckland Uniservices Ltd. from New Zealand.
Last year, the Belgian Development Agency also reported interest in spending $74 million by 2014 to explore Rwanda’s geothermal energy potential. The hope is that this work attracts investors to Rwanda by conducting drilling to prove that about 300 megawatts of energy can be extracted from Rwanda’s geothermal sources.