East Africa’s Rift Valley spans six countries, from Mozambique to Djibouti. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) have just completed testing for geothermal capacity in the region. Those tests have produced results far beyond expectations.
Geothermal wells able to generate up to 8 MW have been discovered. The Africa Rift Valley Geothermal Development Facility (ARGeo) puts the valley’s potential in the range of 2.5 to 6.5 GW at present technological abilities. So far only Kenya has begun tapping this renewable resource, with a goal of 1200 MW by 2015. That, however, is about to change.
ARGeo, backed by UNEP and the World Bank, will facilitate drilling in the six Rift Valley countries starting early next year. With so much energy available and Africa’s populations in dire need, leaders in the UN and Africa are ready to get drilling.
According to Monique Barbut, chair and CEO of GEF, “The work in the Rift Valley is demonstrating that geothermal is not only technologically viable but cost effective for countries in Africa where there is an overall potential of at least 7000 MW.” Geothermal power is getting more attention and funding the world round as evidence of its potential mounts. Iceland already generates 99% of its electricity needs from geothermal and these new discoveries in Africa only further demonstrate how widespread geothermal power can be.