Rwanda launches search for geothermal energy

Exploration drilling for geothermal energy sources is set to commence on the slopes of Mount Karisimbi in Rwanda, according to state minister for energy and water Emma Francoise Isumbingabo.

She made this announcement at a meeting of stakeholders in geothermal exploration to explore ways of harnessing the energy source.

“We have been conducting studies, and before end of this month, we will receive the relevant reports and start drilling three planned wells at Karisimbi ‒ an exercise that is expected to be completed in two months,” Isumbingabo said.

The minister added that surveys conducted by various companies since 1983, including the Kenya Electricity Company (KenGen) in 2009, had indicated that the geothermal resource area at Karisimbi was enormous. Other sites identified were at 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.

Acting head of geothermal unit at the Energy Water and Sanitation Agency (EWSA) Aimable Habinshuti said negotiations for drilling equipment had been finalised.

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

He pointed out, however, that inadequate equipment and human resource capacity were the major challenges to the exploration phase.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) resident representative Hiroyuki Kobayashi has pledged support. “We have brought in five experts in geothermal exploration and will continue to provide technical support whenever need arises,” he said.