Rwanda’s geothermal energy is forecast to reach 700 MW

Rwanda plans to start drilling exploratory geothermal wells in an area that may have at least 700 megawatts of steam power, following in the footsteps of neighboring Kenya, Energy Minister Coletha Ruhamya said. Rwanda lies within the same Great Rift Valley fault system as Kenya, where shifting tectonic plates provide sizeable reserves of geothermal energy.

Kenya, Africa’s biggest geothermal power producer, estimates the extent of its untapped power resources at as much as 10,000 megawatts, enough to meet its own electricity needs and export the surplus.

“Geothermal is the area that the government of Rwanda wants to prioritize,” Ruhamya said, according to a statement from the Nairobi-based Geothermal Development Co. “Since Kenya has progressed far in the area, we are looking for collaboration and partnership in capacity building, drilling and putting plants in place.”

Kenya is offering her geothermal expertise to Rwanda and other countries in the region in an effort to find a lasting energy solution in the region, Energy Minister, Hon. Kiraitu Mrungi has said. In a joint statement made by the minister and his Rwandese counter-part, Engineer Coletha Ruhamya, the two ministers said that a bilateral engagement is critical to attain energy sufficiency.

“We are discussing cooperation in geothermal development between Rwanda and Kenya. Geothermal is the only alternative for the region for secure and reliable supply of energy. As you know, thermal is very expensive. Hydro power has also become unreliable because of climatic change and drought. Geothermal provides the best alternative,” Hon. Murungi said during the joint press briefing in Nairobi.

In this arrangement, Kenya is training geothermal scientists, engineers and technicians from Rwanda on geothermal technology. The country will also send experts to Rwanda to facilitate the establishment of structures and systems in exploration drilling and power plants.

“Geothermal is the area that the government of Rwanda want to prioritize. We have prospects of about 700 MW and we want to start exploration drilling. Since Kenya has progressed far in the area, we are looking for collaboration and partnership in capacity building, drilling and putting plants in place. There is a lot that we can learn from Kenya on geothermal energy,” Eng. Ruhamya said.

Currently, 12 Rwandese students are being trained by the Geothermal Development Company (GDC) in Nakuru. The 35-days training include seminars and field tours. The training includes general geothermal technology, drilling, geology and hydrogeology, geophysics, geochemistry, reservoir engineering and management.

The GDC Managing Director, Dr. Silas Simiyu said his company is ready to provide all the requisite expertise that will spur the growth of the geothermal sector in the region. “We have a wide range of expertise in geothermal and we are very happy to share this with other countries in the region. GDC has established a big team of experienced scientists, engineers and technicians on diverse areas of geothermal development,” Dr. Simiyu said.

“We are pleased with the progress of the talks. There is a lot of potential for the two countries. We believe that the exploitation of this geothermal resource will enhance power supply in the region,” Hon. Murungi added.