Ethiopia signs up for ambitious geothermal development plan

Ethiopia signs up for ambitious geothermal development plan Wenchi crater, Ethiopia (source: flickr/ MESSAY5, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 1 Oct 2013

The Government of Ethiopia and Icelandic-US Reykjavik Geothermal sign up for an ambitious geothermal development plant of an initial 500 MW of power generation capacity and a potentially total of 1,000 MW.

Announced last week, the Government of Ethiopia and Icelandic developer and advisory firm Reykjavik Geothermal have signed a far reaching geothermal development plan for Ethiopia.

Under the signed agreement, Reykjavik Geothermal plans to build and operate up to 1,000 MW of geothermal power generation capacity with early development of up to 500 MW planned for the next 5 years.

Reykjavik Geothermal has – according to the release –  “been working with the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCO) and various government ministries for the past two years to finalize the power purchase agreement.

The development of the first 500 MW will happen inside the Corbetti Caldera, which is considered one of the top geothermal resources in the world by the team of Icelandic and Ethiopian geoscientists that have studied the area. The company pland to develop an initial 10 MW plant until 2015, with an additional 100 MW in 2016 and the full 500 MW to be developed until 2018.

“Africa needs to transform, and energy is at the center of that transformation,“ said His Excellency Hailemariam Desalegn, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, at this morning’s announcement in New York. “My vision is that over the next 30 years we will need to harness as much as 80,000 MW of hydro, geothermal, wind and solar power, not just for Ethiopia, but for our neighboring countries as well. This cannot be done by public investment alone; we will need to partner with the private sector to bring in significant private investment going forward. From that perspective, this 1,000 MW project with RG is not that large – but it‘s a great start. What Africa needs now is not just aid, but trade and investment.“

“We are very pleased to announce this historic agreement with Reykjavik Geothermal. This will be a significant step for EEPCO in realizing our strategic vision of being the regional leader for power generation and export in East Africa,” said Deputy Prime Minister and EEPCO Chairman, H.E. Dr. Michael Debretsion. “We believe Ethiopia has over 10,000 MW of geothermal potential which provides base load power and is a perfect complement to our over 50,000 MW of hydropower potential.”

“Our agreement with EEPCO and the Government of Ethiopia is a ground-breaking achievement. Reykjavik Geothermal will be the first Independent Power Producer (IPP) in Ethiopia and the Corbetti Project will be the largest single geothermal power plant ever built in Africa,” said RG Chairman, Michael Philipp. “The agreement for 1,000 MW of geothermal power, an investment of $4 billion over an 8-10 year period, confirms the confidence of international investors in the growth and stability of the Ethiopian Economy. This project is being led by US private investors and has generated significant interest from the development agencies involved with the Power Africa initiative announced by President Obama.”

“The Corbetti Project is a new model for developing large scale power projects in Africa,” said EEPCO CEO, Miheret Debebe. “The project combines the considerable expertise for electrical power generation of Ethiopia, with the geothermal technical knowledge of Iceland and the financial and structuring expertise of the United States. This project will set a new benchmark for large scale projects financed by the private sector and will help Ethiopia unleash its full energy potential.”

“The Corbetti Geothermal Project will establish Ethiopia as a leader in the global geothermal industry,” said Gudmundur Thoroddsson, CEO of Reykjavik Geothermal. “Ethiopia has some of the best high temperature geothermal resources anywhere, and the Corbetti Project will be one of the lowest cost and most technologically advanced geothermal facilities in the world. Our goal is to transfer geothermal knowledge and expertise from Iceland to build a long term geothermal industry in Ethiopia.”

“This historic agreement for Ethiopia is a fitting tribute on the first anniversary of the passing of visionary leader H.E. Meles Zenawi,” said Nejib Abba Biya, Chairman of Rift Valley Geothermal, the Ethiopian partner of Reykjavik Geothermal. “The late Prime Minister was Africa’s spokesman at Global Climate Change conferences and an unflinching advocate for clean and renewable energy.”

Source: Press Release