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Uganda plans new energy policy promoting solar and geothermal power

Skyline of Kampala, capital of Uganda (source: flickr/ Todd Huffman, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 16 Jan 2020

Under a new planned national energy policy, Uganda plans to promote development of solar and geothermal projects while also increasing demand for and better affordability of electricity in the country.

Reported locally, Uganda has issued a new and revised draft of its national energy policy. With that the country aims to push strategies that push renewable energy development, such as solar and geothermal power.

Today, biomass energy represents around 88% of the total primary energy consumed in Uganda, mainly through firewood, charcoal and crop residues. Electricity currently only represents 2% of primary energy supply, mostly hydropower, with fossil fuels representing around 10 percent of the energy mix. The large increase in biomass – as described in the article – is largely due to people in rural areas not being able to afford electricity.

“There is limited productive use of electricity especially in rural areas which negatively affects demand growth, affordability and uptake. Low demand growth compared to planned generation capacity is likely to exert pressure on consumer tariffs,” the draft energy policy notes.

The country wants to attract more investments into the energy sector, while gradually shifting from a primarily private sector led development to public-private partnerships and more public financing for better affordability.

The energy policy talks about the impact of formulating innovative financing mechanisms for private geothermal resource development through provision of fiscal and other incentives, on top of soliciting funds for the management of geothermal exploration risk in order to attract investors.

UK firm Bantu RG Energy, through its local subsidiary – Bantu Energy Uganda Limited – is looking to become the first company to put up a geothermal power plant in Uganda connected to the national grid.

The company has written to the Electricity Regulatory Authority over its plans of building a 10MW geothermal power plant in the Panyigoro area of Nebbi district. The company plans to first undertake feasibility studies before applying for a generation license.

Source: The Observer