Djibouti had plans to develop its wind power potential

Djibouti has received a $30 million loan, part of the money it needs to put up a 75 megawatt thermal electricity plant, the head of its power utility told Reuters.

It is waiting for another $100 million but had agreements with the Kuwait Fund and Saudi Fund for $30 million each, and the Islamic Development Bank and OPEC would provide another $40 million each.

“With the signing in January 2010 of the agreement with the Arab Fund for Development for 25 percent of total project costs of $130 million for a new power plant, we made a giant step,” said Djama Ali Guelleh, general manager at Djibouti Electricity. “This loan of $30 million will be repayable over 25 years with an interest rate of 2-5 percent.”

The new power plant will be situated at Djaban Haas, 15 km (9 miles) south of the capital and will have an initial capacity of 75 megawatts, which can be later expanded to 300 MW, he said.

Guelleh said Djibouti had purchased five generators with capacity of 15 MW each, and an interconnection project with neighbouring Ethiopia was on track.

“The poles are up and the power cables are running the 85 km to the Ethiopian border,” he said.

Djibouti has been relying on the 80 MW Boulaos power plant built in 1976, but everyone agreed it was uneconomical to expand it, Guelleh said.

Another official said the Djibouti government also had plans to develop its wind energy potential in the medium term. A government study in 2002 established that Goubet, at the entrance of the Gulf of Tadjourah, had potential for 50 MW wind farm.

Idriss Hared, renewable energy specialist at the Djibouti Research Centre, said the government was looking for financing for a wind farm at Goubet and discussions were going on with the French Development Agency and Alsthom.

The tiny Horn of Africa country also aspires to tap its geothermal resources. In 2008, a preliminary geophysic study by an Iceland company showed that there were good prospects.

“The total project cost is $170 million and will be financed by the World Bank, European Investment Bank and Iceland,” said Abdou Houmed, an EDD geothermal resources engineer.

Prospecting for geothermal began in 1970, seven years before the independence, and six exploratory boreholes were drilled between 1973 and 1983 at Hanle, 137 km at the South of Djibouti, and in Assal Lake, 122 km north.

Each time the result was positive but the high salinity was an main obstacle, he said. Another four wells were sunk in Assal in 1987 for $16 million but here too the main issue was salinity, he said.

The government had mobilised $27 million for the feasibility studies from the Arab Fund, Kuwait Fund, and Iceland’s Reykjavik Energy.

“With financial crisis in Iceland, I can’t say when the program will be restart, but the last contact with our partners left me optimistic,” Houmed said.