Funding sought for Karthala geothermal project, Comoros

Funding sought for Karthala geothermal project, Comoros Presentation of the Karthala project with the Vice President of the Comoros, IRENA meeting 2016 (source: ThinkGeoEnergy)
Alexander Richter 31 Jan 2017

The Karthala geothermal project on the Comoros, off the cost of East Africa is seeking to raise $27 million to proceed with exploratory drilling.

At the recently held IRENA General Assembly and a meeting of the Global Geothermal Alliance, the Karthala Geothermal Project on the Comoros Islands off the coast of Africa was introduced.

The Union of Comoros, due to its geological context, presents favourable conditions of rthe exploitation of high-temperature geothermal energy to power generation. From the Karthala volcano, the country benefits exploitable geothermal resources for electricity generation.

Developing geothermal energy in the context of Comoros pursues a general objective of sustainable development and energy security. more specifically, it aims to increase the share of clean energy int he Comorian energy mix and substitute to fossil fuels. as endogenous resources, development of geothermal can increase energy security and reduce the dependency to fossil fuels.

As part of the analysis of renewable energy options for power production, a recent study has been completed for the Karthala geothermal project. It highlighted the major economic benefit of decreasing diesel fuel consumption for electricity generation and thereby saving financial resources needed for other challenges.

The existence of a geothermal reservoir around the Karthala volcano extending to La Souffriere in teh north of the caldera at a depth of 1,700-1,900 meters. The geothermal system around the volcano Karthala presents exploitable temperatures of up to 300 degrees Celsius. Studies imply a potential for 40-45 MW of electricity generation capacity. Geology indicates that areas of high permeability can be formed along the fracture zones around the Karthala volcano where heavy rains provide abundant waters for the recharge of the geothermal system.

For the geophysical survey, a total of 80 MT sampling points were recorded as well as 250 gravimetric measurement points. The data gathered was used to develop drilling plans. Data processing and data modeling (1D & 3D) carried out by Jacobs, GNS and CGG allow providing the conceptual model of the geothermla system with the spatial extent of the reservoir, its depth and associated structures.

There is a need for road infrastructure to facilitate the transport of equipment at the drilling site (from Bahani to La Souffriere) and the installation of the water supply facilities. Environmental and social impact assessment is ongoing to ensure that ecosystems and the environment are preserved. Risk analysis is also underway for investment sustainability to mitigate other natural hazards.

In September 2014, the Government of the Comoros, the Government of New Zealand and  the UN Development Program (UNDP) decided to join forces to support the project.

With the positive results of the studies conducted last year, a full business plan has been completed and environmental studies and preliminary work on the scoping and design of site access and services is underway.

The Karthala Geothermal Project in Grande Comore is now moving to an exploration drilling program.

The projet has been financially supported by the African Union unde rthe Geotheraml Risk Mitigation Facility (GRMF) with $8.2 million and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) with $6.6m. The Government of New Zealand confirmed support for the project of $4 million. Together, these partners have been able to provide $18 million to start the drilling phase of the project. A gap of $27 million remains to be secured today.

The Comorian Government is therefore implementing a strategy to mobilize technical and financial resources in order to ensure the establishment of a strong partnership around the project in order to guarantee the implementation of the second phase of this initiative.

Exploratory drilling will confirm the resource and sites for the plant’s production and installation drilling.

Under the created business shows economic and financial viability of the investment into geothermal power generation. A private public partnership will be requested to finance the final phase which includes production drilling, plant construction and interconnection to the grid.

Exploration Drilling Funding Status:

  • Efforts to date have secured about $18 million, 40% of estimated requirements for exploration drilling phase
  • Seeking additional $27 million of grant funding
  • Working to reduce infrastructure costs.

A background overview on the project can be found in a paper published for the African Rift Geothermal Conference in Addis Ababa 2016.