The State Minister in Charge of Energy and Water, Eng. Coletha Ruhamya, has said that the development of geothermal energy in Rwanda is a priority because it would reduce over reliance on oil fired generators.
She made the remarks, yesterday, while officiating at the regional geothermal training workshop on policy development and harmonization in Kigali.
The three-day forum that brought together participants from 11 African countries aimed at addressing challenges and barriers to the development of geothermal resources in the East African Rift Valley System (EARS).
She said that geothermal is expected to contribute over 300MW to the national energy grid by 2017.
The country has also developed an electricity master plan which indicates that geothermal could contribute about 50% of the electricity energy requirements by 2020.
“The development of geothermal energy in Rwanda is, therefore, a priority because it would reduce reliance on oil fired generators which account for about 50% of our current generation capacity, a very big strain on the national budget and slows down social economical development,” Ruhamya stressed.
“We are still at the initial stage, we have carried out surface studies and we have two potential areas of geothermal resources in southern and northern part of the country.”
She added that, for the seven year plan they are expecting to invest in $900m both from the government and the private sector towards producing the 300 MW from geothermal energy.
The major challenge, Ruhamya noted, is to overcome all the barriers and risks associated with geothermal development and make geothermal the energy of choice.
According to Aboubaker Baba Moussa, the Director of the Department of Infrastructure and Energy, at the AU Commission, geothermal is renewable and environmental friendly energy resource that offers enormous opportunity in provision of least cost electrical supply.
“The Rift Valley System in the East and Central Africa has abundant geothermal energy potential capable of generating over 15000 MW,” he noted.
Katrin KeBels from the Germany Development Bank said that her bank supported geothermal projects in Kenya and became a success story.
“As an active financier of geothermal projects, we hope this forum will give us further ideas on how to promote geothermal power plants in the region,” she said.
The forum, organized by the African Union, brought together participants from Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, DR Congo, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Eritrea.