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Rwanda to commence exploration drilling at Karisimbi in August 2012

Karisimbi, Rwanda (source: flickr/ uvioc, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 6 Mar 2012

At a recent investor conference in Rwanda, energy officials announce first geothermal exploration drilling to take place at Karisimbi in August 2012. It is expected that the project could power a 10 MW plant that could start operation as early as 2014.

Reported on ThinkGeoEnergy before, Rwanda is making strong efforts in the development of its energy market, putting a strong emphasis on exploiting its geothermal resources.

The country – as reported by local news – has now scheduled to be drilling the first exploration wells in Karisimbi in August this year. If drilling is successful and the wells are productive, it is planned that a 10 MW geothermal power plant will be built. It is expected that the cost to build the plant will be $30 million and could start producing power as early as 2014.

Last week, the Rwanda Energy Investor Forum in Kigali took place and energy officials announced that development is expected to be driven by private sector investments on four potential site. Each of those sites has an estimated resource potential for a power generation capacity of 75 MW that could together add 300 MW to the Rwandan power grid by 2017.

“The four prospective sites are Gisenyi, Karisimbi and Kinigi located in western region as well as Bugarama in southern region.

By funding the test drilling in Karisimbi at an estimate cost of US$ 5m per well, the government intention is to show courteous investors that there are 100% chances of striking commercially viable geothermal reserves in this area of live volcanoes and active seismic and magnetic activity.

Initial surface surveys estimate the steam in underground in Gisenyi to generate about 200MW, Karisimbi 320MW, Kinigi 120MW, Bugarama 60MW and about 40MW from other smaller sites. This brings the total geothermal energy potential to about 740MW. But Dr Steven Onacha, a geothermal expert involved in the exploration work, said that more recent studies show the potential could be much bigger than originally thought.

Evidence of availability of geothermal reserves in Rwanda was first noticed in 1982 when the French Bureau of Geology measured temperatures under ground to be 100 degrees Celsius.

In 2006, an investigation by another company, Chevron, estimated the temperatures at 150 degrees while BGR and KenGen concluded in a survey done last year that temperatures in Karisimbi are after all higher.

Geothermal is just one of the several other sources of energy the government is seeking to attract private investments to significantly increase power generation capacity needed to meet the development needs of the country.

Apart of geothermal and hydro sources, attention is also focusing on the development of methane gas in Lake Kivu where studies have confirmed availability of 55 billion cubic meters.

Officials of the Rwanda Development Board, the organizers of the Rwanda Energy Investor Forum co-hosted by the World Bank said that funders such as the African Development Bank, World Bank Group and the European Union have in the past expressed interest in financing feasible projects in the country.”

Source: AllAfrica