Rwanda focuses on Geothermal Energy

A geothermal project in the volcanic region of Gishenyi has been launched. In Africa, also Rwanda is focusing on harnessing geothermal energy to improve the energy scenario and increase the number of households with access to electricity.

The first step was the announcement of an exploration programme, involving 3 wells to be drilled in the volcanic region of Gishenyi (in the west of the country), which experts consider the most promising.

Under the project, which will become operational in the first half of 2011, investment for 15 million euros will be required for preliminary analysis, drilling and plant design.

The construction phase will follow, also regarding the infrastructure needed to connect the site to the national grid. However, energy expert Stephen NACE, of the Infrastructure Ministry said that "when we confirm geothermal resources in the first well, we will begin developing it for electricity generation immediately, without waiting to drill the other wells”.

The project is included in a larger plan for the development of electricity infrastructure, for which Rwanda has also obtained funding from the World Bank and European ethical funds.

Currently, with a population of about 10 million inhabitants, the total installed electricity capacity in Rwanda amounts to only 80 MW, of which 41.7 MW of hydroelectric power, and 37.8 MW of diesel.

Energy Minister Coleta Ruhamya announced a plan to raise the installed capacity to 1,000 MW over the next seven years, including 300 MW from geothermal sources.