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Sierra Leone: Geothermal Potential Estimated at 700 Megawatts

James Karuhanga

Kigali — Preliminary findings by the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen), which was contracted last year to conduct a thorough surface exploration of geothermal energy, indicate that Rwanda’s potential is estimated to be more than 700 Megawatts.

A summarized document on geothermal development obtained from the Ministry of Infrastructure, reveals that the data acquired by KenGen has been reviewed by consultant and “used to estimate the geothermal potential in Rwanda.”

energyThe KenGen report was presented to a workshop of geothermal experts from Iceland, Kenya and Germany in February and a final report together with the data was presented in June last year.

The June workshop had recommended drilling three exploratory wells (2-3km deep) in the southern slopes of the Karisimbi volcano.

“Based on the reinterpretation of the KenGen data, the western region geothermal area has been divided into 3 regions of Karisimbi, Gisenyi and Kinigi that can be developed separately,” reads part of the summary seen by The New Times.

The development of geothermal energy resources in Rwanda, started in 2006 with a view of diversifying energy sources in the generation of electricity. It lags behind other eastern African countries like Kenya and Ethiopia in Geothermal explotation.

The country’s unique tectonic and geological setting of the volcanoes area and other surface hydrothermal manifestations have indicated the existence of potential geothermal systems, according to the summary.

Rwanda has two prospective areas for geothermal potential: the north-western part of the country comprising the Volcanoes National Park (Karisimbi and Kinigi) and the hot springs of Gisenyi; and the south-western (Bugarama) part of the country located at intersection of faults associated with the western branch of the East African Rift to the south of Lake Kivu.

The Karisimbi prospect has been under study since 2008 by the German Federal Institute of Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), and KenGen as well as the Infrastructure Ministry.

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