Wind power in Ethiopia

The potential from wind, which the first phase of the Energy Sector Mapping & Database Development identified as 10,000 MW, has not been tapped. However, Ashegoda Wind Farm, 120 MW, is one of the projects underway using renewable energy source. Seen above is the nacelle of the first wind turbine being transported almost a year ago to be erected at the site.

The first phase of a project aimed at producing a comprehensive and updated energy sector data for the country, conducted at a cost of 4.3 million Br, was finalized and submitted to the Ministry of Water & Energy (MoWE) on Wednesday, October 19, 2011.

Initiated by the Ministry, the fund for the project, titled the Energy Sector Mapping & Database Development (ESMAD), was financed by GiZ, a German international cooperation. The study was conducted by a company called Professional Consulting on Energy & Development, (PROCEED) as a lead consultant with eight private senior consultants.

The first phase, which took 16 months, developed a web based and Geographical Information System (GIS) enabled energy database. The project, which commenced in May of last year, was overseen by a national steering committee. It was comprised of MoWE, GIZ-Energy Coordination Office (ECO), Ethiopian Electric Agency (EEA), Ethiopian Electric Power Cooperation (EEPCo), Ministry of Agiculture (MoA) and Central Statistics Authority (CSA).

The study conducted by the local energy consulting firm will be the second study of the whole energy sector of the country, next to the one conducted by an Italian company in the 1980s.

The database enables the production of a variety of energy maps based on data collected on the supply side of electricity, biomass, renewable energy and hydrocarbons.

Since the potential areas for power generation are clearly indicated on the energy map, it will attract private investors to engage in the sector, according to Samson Tolessa, deputy director of Energy Coordination Office of GIZ.

"There is no organized data about the energy potential of the country," he told Fortune. "The cost of identifying this potential by themselves is one of the reasons that might discourage investors."

With hydropower being the dominant source of electricity in the country, there is not enough data about the potentials of local alternative sources for power generation such as wind energy and solar power.

Ethiopia has an economically exploitable hydropower potential of over 260Terra-Watt-Hour a year, making it second in Africa, next to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Out of the total electricity production, 98pc of the electricity production is from hydropower while only seven mega watts is produced from Geothermal power, despite an estimated potential of 5,000Mw.

Another renewable source of energy that has potential, according to the report, is wind.

The study found out that the eastern lowlands and rift valley are wind rich areas of the country, while the western highlands of Ethiopia are considered to be relatively it said.

In the low lands, the highest wind speed recorded in August is 10.5 meters per second and the lowest recorded two meters per second was in November.

Lack of reliable wind data covering the entire country has been one of the reasons for limited application of wind energy, the study claimed.

"Most of the metrological stations being designed for aviation navigation purposes and not energy data recording have led to misleading assertions that the country does not have sufficient wind potential," proves the study.

Although the country has the potential to generate more than 10,000Mw of electricity from wind sources, it currently only generates 7.3Mw. The government has embarked on generating power from wind plants by constructing six wind farms over the five year GTP period. Out of this, Ashegoda wind Farm, located 780Km north of the capital in the Tigray Regional State with the capacity of generating 120MW, Ayisha with a capacity of 300Mw and Debre Berhan and Asela wind farms each generating 100Mw are underway.

Prospects look sunny in the generation of power from solar energy as well, the study discovered. Located in the tropics, Ethiopia receives high solar energy, with an average potential of 5.26 kilowatt hour per square metre. However, the potential of the country differs from season to season reaching as low as 4.55 kilowatt hour per square metre and as high as 6.25 kilowatt hour per square metre.

To date, a total of 2,689Kw installed capacity of solar electricity generating units have been put in use, of which 33.3Kw is installed as lighting in rural households, the study found out.

The second phase of the project, which will cost an estimated amount of 1.2 million dollars is to be conducted by the same consultants, according Samson.

Mahlet Mesfin,