Geothermal Energy Could End Power
Crisis - World Bank
Apr 22, 2008 - Rwanda News Agency - All Africa
Rwanda should seriously consider exploration of
geothermal resources because available data indicates
significant potential that could solve the energy
crisis and electrify the whole country, according
to a new World Bank study.
Systematic assessment and exploration of geothermal
resources for energy production would not only help
meet the ongoing energy crisis, the Bank says, it
would also counter the long-term needs of energy
The findings are part of a major WB study 'Buidling
Science, Technology,a and Inovation Capacity in Rwanda:
Developing Practical Solutions to Practical Problems',
presented on Monday to government, development partners
and the private sector.
Government commissioned the study in 2006 as part
of efforts to see the possibility of using science
and technology to turn the economy around.
The comprehensive study calls for a radical shift
in all sectors if government is to achieve its 'dream'
to orient the country's production capacity into
a knowledge-based economy. Under the so called Vision
2020, government wants to create a hitech economy
away from the old ways of production.
The WB and Government agree however that to achieve
such an economy, enormous resources - both human
and financial are required - which the two parties
believe are worth it.
Building human capacity for the systematic analysis
of the country's resources would be a primary goal
of this program, Lead researcher and WB Science and
Technology Program Coordinator Alfred Watkins told
the stakeholders in Kigali yesterday.
"Investing in STI capacity building is a necessity,
not a luxury", said Watkins, who led a team
of 18 national and international experts for the
study. There is no need of growing so much food when
it is going to rot because it cannot be preserved
or improved, he added.
The Minister of Science and Technology Prof. Romain
Murenzi said government is "committed to ensuring
that by 2020 our people will have home grown and
practical solutions to their practical problems".
"In collaboration with universities and the
private sector, we need to change the mind set of
how our people look at science and technology - not
as theory but as basis for tackling challenges facing
our country", he said.
President Paul Kagame told an American scientific
audience in February in Boston that government would
invest 5 percent of GDP into developing science and
technology over the next five years.
However, the WB experts caution against a "narrow
focus on geothermal capacities because commercial
viability of geothermal resources is yet unproven".
Mapping of hot springs, fumaroles, and other geothermal
surface manifestations has not been carried out in
a systematic, comprehensive manner - although some
previous studies show great potential, the experts
Limited observation and surface geological work
has been conducted at hydrothermal springs in western
and central parts of the country.
According to a 1999 preliminary report by the US
Geological Energy Association, Rwanda's geothermal
resources may be sufficient to provide 100 percent
electrification of the country.
To tap from this supposed quantities and for the
longer term, the World Bank proposes a two-track
approach. The Rwanda Geoscientific Center is to be
established as well - to provide support on how the
country's human and institutional capacity can be
Under track 1 - that has been dubbed 'urgent', the
Bank says Rwanda should be supported to identify
viable geothermal resources and generate 2-5 megawatts
withing three years. If the pilot phase proves satisfactory,
Rwanda can expand production of geothermal energy
to 30-50 megawatts, the study says.
Long term capacity building for improved oversight
and management of mining, hydrological and geothermal
operations are some of the components proposed for
the second track. This will largely involve universities
and Rwanda courting regional governments.
Proposals to carry out assessments of geothermal
potential have been received from the German Federal
Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR)
and US based Geothermal Development Associates (GDA).
The German government is to fund the BGR portion
at 300,000 Euros ($400,000 US dollars) starting later
The American proposal, which is larger in scope,
according to the World Bank, includes geological
and geochemical testing at a number of sites, and
geophysical surveys and temperature gradient drilling
at three sites. At approximately $900,000 US dollars,
the Bank says this can start immediately.
Rwanda has been in grip of biting power crisis due
to low capacity from its many but small hydro plants.
Government promptly has moved to tap from all sorts
of sources including thermal but this has barely
been sufficient. Efforts are under way to use up
the vast quantities of methane gas in Lake Kivu -
in the Western part.
"We are now looking at the construction of
micro-hydroelectric stations, renewable energy industries
and exploitation of methane gas for production of
electricity to supplement the country's energy deficit," government
said illustrating its priorities under the 2007/08
Available figures show that less than 10% Rwandans
have access to electricity which is also running
at a shortfall of about 40 percent.
Government estimates that by 2020, if the ongoing
plans in the energy sector bare fruit, some 1.4 million
jobs will be created across different sector.