Geothermal energy an important part of Ethiopia’s energy future

Geothermal energy an important part of Ethiopia’s energy future Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (Source: Flickr, CC, By: neiljs)
Alexander Richter 18 Jan 2016

Geothermal energy development will be a crucial element in Ethiopia's energy goals to become carbon neutral by 2025.

To achieve its ambitions target to become carbon neutral by 2025, geothermal energy will play a future role in the energy future for Ethiopia, so the International Finance Corporation (IFC).


In a recent news piece, IFC reports that “Ethiopia’s government aims to tap more than 5,000 megawatts of operational geothermal capacity in the coming decades, which will require approximately $20 billion of investment.

IFC is working with Ethiopia’s Ministry of Water, Irrigation, and Electricity and the Ethiopian Electricity Agency to create an investor friendly regulatory environment. IFC is lending support to government to enact regulations to facilitate private developers to engage in geothermal projects. The goal is to harness the private sector’s financial and technical expertise, while ensuring that Ethiopia’s geothermal resources result in broad benefits. Over the coming months, IFC and the Ministry will be reaching out to the private sector and civil society stakeholders for input in the drafting these regulations.

New energy sources are vital as demand for affordable energy rises in Ethiopia. Ethiopia has 2,300 megawatts of already installed power capacity for a population of 90 million. Only 24 percent of the population has access to electricity. Determined to increase access, the government has undertaken bold programs to develop renewables. Recent power projects include the 1,870 megawatt Gibe III hydropower plant on the Omo River, which is expected to expand further.

Still, most of Ethiopia’s energy is generated from hydropower, where supply is threatened during periods of drought. Geothermal energy has the added advantage of being baseload power, meaning it does not depend on wind, sun or water, and is constantly available. In 2015, Ethiopia kick-started its geothermal exploration by signing a 500 megawatt power purchase agreement for the Corbetti project, a joint undertaking between the government and Reykjavik Geothermal, a U.S.-Icelandic private developer.

Awakening the sleeping furnaces underground will be an arduous process. But with the right reforms, and partnership between the public and private sector, Ethiopia will be on its way to becoming East Africa’s geothermal hub.”


Source: IFC news piece