Geothermal Energy in Rwanda

Drilling for the exploration of geothermal energy is set to commence at the slopes of Mt. Karisimbi, the State Minister for Energy and Water, Eng. Emma Francoise Isumbingabo, has announced.

She made the remarks, yesterday, in a meeting that brought together stakeholders in geothermal exploration to explore ways of harnessing the energy source.

"We have been conducting studies, and before end of this month, we shall get reports and start drilling three planned wells at Karisimbi, an exercise that is expected to be completed in two months," Isumbingabo said.

The minister said that surveys conducted by various firms since 1983, including Kenya Electricity Company (KenGen), in 2009, indicated that the geothermal resource area at Karisimbi was enormous. Other sites identified are Gisenyi, Kinigi and Bugarama.

According to the national electricity master plan, geothermal energy is expected to contribute at least 300 MW to the national grid by 2017, and potentially provide half of the country’s energy requirements by 2020.

The Acting Head of Geothermal Unit at the Energy Water and Sanitation Agency (EWSA), Aimable Habinshuti, said negotiations for drilling equipment have been finalized.

"We are also working on measures to ensure that risks are minimized during the exploration phase to enable the private sector take part in the exercise," Habinshuti said.

However, he pointed out that inadequate equipment and human resource capacity were the major challenges in the exploration phase. Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Resident Representative, Hiroyuki Kobayashi, pledged support.

"We have brought in five experts in geothermal exploration and will continue to provide technical support whenever need arises," he said.