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Economy

Rwanda turns to Kenya again for geothermal skills

GEOTHERMAL DEVELOPMENT COMPANY PLANT IN MENENGAI, NAKURU. FILE PHOTO | NMG
GEOTHERMAL DEVELOPMENT COMPANY PLANT IN MENENGAI, NAKURU. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Rwanda has once gain sought Kenya’s expertise in geothermal energy exploration after its drilling of two wells in 2015 failed.

Kigali has now sought consultancy services from Geothermal Development Company (GDC) scientists and engineers, opening up revenue stream for the Kenyan government-owned company that earned Sh11.9 million from consultancy to regional economies in 2015/16 financial year. “We are offering scientific and technical support based on our success in geothermal development,” said Paul Ngugi, a manager at GDC.

Rwanda has resumed exploration studies for geothermal, having taken a break after two wells sunk in 2015 yielded no team.

Kenya is ranked the ninth largest producer of geothermal electricity in the world and the leader in Africa with a capacity of 630 megawatts, according to Renewables Global Status report 2017.

Mr Ngugi said Ethiopia, Tanzania and Djibouti, which share geothermal belt of the Great Rift Valley with Kenya have in recent years sought GDC’s expertise and equipment.

The GDC, which sells geothermal steam to power producers like KenGen for conversion to electricity, has seven operational rigs.

Geothermal is seen as an attractive low-cost renewable energy source with low emissions and serves as a stable, reliable base-load electricity.

Ethiopia is the only other African nation that has developed geothermal energy (7 megawatts). Addis has, however, recently suffered delays in breaking ground for what would be Africa’s largest geothermal plant — 1,000 megawatts Corbetti project.

Kenya plans a geothermal centre of excellence in Nakuru to expand the regional pool of specialists, including geologists, geophysicists, geochemists as well as reservoir and drilling engineers. The multi-billion-shilling hub will sit on 100 acres next to Kabarak University in Nakuru and will feature a training centre, labs and offices. It’s a joint project among the African Rift Valley countries — Kenya, Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia.

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