A national energy plan for Eritrea was signed within the framework of the European Union’s 11th EDF (European Development Fund). As part of that Eritrea will receive up to EUR 175 million ($200 million) for investment in the energy sector, including redoing the national power grid, building stand-alone photovoltaic and wind power supply systems in rural areas and the exploration of geothermal resources. A further EUR 20 million will be provided to support the financial management activities of Eritrean financial entities.
Under the Funding for Energy for Development improved socio-economic development through usage of clean, reliable, sustainable and affordable energy, Eritrea is receiving funding for preliminary studies and exploration phase completed for geothermal field at Alid, which is expected to be completed by 2020. Funding available for this project is EUR 8 million ($9 million).
Previous work on the site were conducted at the Alid Volcanic center. Angelo Marini from the Italian Institute for Military Geography in 1902 during Italian colony initiated a preliminary study on the Alid geothermal manifestations. Subsequent decades, however no documented studies on geothermal exploration commenced till 1973, when UNDP sponsored work was done which included a reconnaissance survey by a Geological Survey of Ethiopia team (UNDP, 1973). The first survey they located thermal springs along the Asmara-Massawa road and in the Gulf of Zula area south of Massawa. A second one was launched from the south during the same year and visited some of the fumaroles that occur on Alid volcano. Several other early studies were conducted between 1973 and 2005. In 2008, an MT/TEM resistivity survey was implemented with the sponsorship of ICEIDA (Icelandic International Agency) in Alid depicting an anomaly at the rift floor.
In the write up of the funding document, it is reported that lack of reliable, affordable and sustainable energy services is the most critical constraint to poverty alleviation and socio-economic development in Eritrea. Today, fuel wood and charcoal account for 78% of the energy supply. Electricity rates of 38% nationally remain among the lowest in the world, particularly in rural areas with electricity rate of 10%.
98% of the little electricity generated in Eritrea is from imported fossil fuels, putting a heavy financial burden on the government.
The country’s geothermal energy resources are therefore seen as a great opportunity to help the country to develop its own power generation sources.
Source: Anima, Eritrea-EU Cooperation EDF program (pdf), Geothermal Exploration in Eritrea – Country Update WGC 2015 (pdf)