AFRICANGLOBE – Drilling for geothermal power in north-western Rwanda is set to begin in December, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure, James Kamanzi, has revealed.
Without giving details Kamanzi told reporters that government has already signed a contract with a qualified firm to start drilling.
Three potential sites with a depth of 2-3km have been identified on the southern slopes of the Karisimbi volcano.
Kamanzi said, “I don’t have details right now but something is actually happening, as we are already doing some drilling in Karisimbi. We already signed a contract with a drilling company. There are three boreholes in Karisimbi. But most drilling work will start in December.”
“You know, drilling one bore hole takes three months, and we have three boreholes in Karisimbi. By next year, we will have got a better or more exact picture on how much steam we have from all these boreholes.”
Normally, geothermal energy exploitation involves extracting hot water from geologically active areas and using it to provide heat to generate electricity.
Preliminary findings, in early 2011, by the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen), which was contracted in 2010 to conduct a thorough surface exploration of geothermal energy, indicated that Rwanda’s potential is estimated to be more than 700 Megawatts.
At the time, basing on the preliminary KenGen data, the western region geothermal spot was divided into three regions of Karisimbi, Gisenyi and Kinigi that could be developed separately.
The search for geothermal resources in Rwanda, started way back in 2006 as government looked to diversify energy sources in the generation of electricity.
Prospective areas for geothermal potential include; Volcanoes National Park (Karisimbi and Kinigi), the hot springs of Gisenyi and Bugarama in the western part of the country.
The Karisimbi prospect has been under study since 2008 by the German Federal Institute of Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), and KenGen as well as the Infrastructure Ministry.
Rwanda is located astride one of the world’s hottest spots for geothermal activity. Experts estimate that the geothermal potential of the East African Rift Valley, a geothermal hot-spot that spans 11 countries, at more than 15,000 megawatts, but the valley’s massive potential remains largely untapped except for budding projects underway only in Kenya and Ethiopia.