Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rwanda to spend $935m on geothermal power

Rwanda to spend $935m on geothermal power

By: Reuters
22nd March 2011

Rwanda plans to spend $935-million on the development of 310 MW of
electricity from geothermal sources in the next seven years to tackle
severe electricity shortages, a government statement said on Tuesday.

Rwanda is one of East Africa's fastest growing economies, with an
expansion rate of 7,5% in 2010, but faster growth is hampered by major
energy challenges.

"Rwanda is targeting 310 MW in the next seven years and the estimated
cost is $935-million," the energy ministry said in a statement.

"The geothermal sources have been identified between Gisenyi and
Karisimbi Volcano and Bugarama. It will cost in total $30,2-million
for drilling three exploration wells and doing the site preparation,
which will include availing infrastructure on site."

Geothermal power is produced by tapping the steam created by water
trapped near hot rocks in the earth.

Only 14% of the Rwandan population has access to electricity, the
ministry said.

The country had an installed capacity of only 69 MW in 2009, but plans
to increase this to 130 MW by the end of 2012 through investments in
small hydropower and methane gas plants.

Rwanda is in a prime area of the East African Rift Valley, one of the
world's hottest spots for geothermal activity.

The area with the most geothermal activity has been identified as the
Virunga volcanic zones in the north and the area around hot springs in
the west.

"Rwanda is also looking at developing hydropower, methane gas, solar,
biogas, peat, with an ultimate goal to reach 1 000 MW of production
capacity by 2017," the statement said.

Experts estimate the geothermal potential along the East African Rift
Valley in excess of 15 000 MW, but the huge potential has remained
largely untapped except in Kenya and Ethiopia.

Edited by: Reuters

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