News

Africa geothermal taking leap forward

Alexander Richter Alexander Richter 22 Dec 2008

A new enterprise - the African Rift Geothermal Development Facility (ARGeo) - will drive forward the plan to harvest the steam locked among the rocks under East Africa, according to the leaders of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

A new enterprise – the African Rift Geothermal Development Facility (ARGeo) – will drive forward the plan to harvest the steam locked among the rocks under East Africa, according to the leaders of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). The announcement was made at the UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland.

While there are already two geothermal sites near Nairobi, Kenya, the main challenge for further expansion in Kenya and elsewhere along the East African Rift Valley, is still the risk associated with drilling and the high cost if steam is not found.

The project now harnessed new technologies to locate promising sites and UNEP’s head Steiner said that the Rift Valley is now thought to have the potential to development of at least 4,000 MW installed capacity. The results mean that ARGeo can expand projects up and down the Rift, which runs from Mozambique in the South to Djibouti in the North. The organisation is charged with raising private sector and public investment in selected geothermal sites in ARGeo countries, as well as “creating an enabling environment for geothermal investments”. Participating countries will include Eritrea, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda. KenGen (Kenyan company), Germany and Iceland will also be involved.

ARGeo, which it is hoped will soon attract private investment, is presently receiving $18 million from the GEF, and is also supported by UNEP and the World Bank.

Source: Monitor (Uganda), ARGeo Program Info (BGR.de)