14 August 2015, Sweetcrude, Nairobi – With an estimated potential of 20,000 MW, geothermal energy could provide an answer to the continent’s energy shortage.
Around 80 delegates, including representatives of 13 African countries, gathered in Nairobi to explore the feasibility of establishing the Africa Geothermal Centre of Excellence (AGCE), which would enhance the continent’s institutional and infrastructural capacities, and create a critical mass of geothermal scientists and engineers.
Currently, around 600 million people in Africa lack access to grid electricity, with the figure expected to rise to 700 million by 2030. The continent is increasingly looking to alternative energy sources to bridge that gap. With an estimated potential of 20,000 MW, geothermal energy could provide an answer to the continent’s energy shortage.
This immense potential remains largely untapped, as the continent faces challenges in terms of skilled human resources and development of technological know-how. To address this problem, African countries are planning to set up the AGCE as a vehicle to ensure the development of skilled personnel and the promotion of sustainable use of geothermal expertise in the continent.
The two-day workshop will assess a feasibility study, which catalogues the region’s needs for geothermal development, drafts the AGCE’s vision and evaluates its long-term sustainability. The meeting, organized by the United Nation Environment Programme’s (UNEP) African Rift Geothermal Development Facility (ARGeo) brings together country representatives, African governments, development partners, donors, civil society, private developers, technical institutions and academia.
AGCE is expected to be established in Kenya, which is the main hub for geothermal technology on the continent, with a natural laboratory and a major geothermal agency ? the Geothermal Development Company.
The African Rift Geothermal Development Facility (ARGeo) Project is funded by the Global Environment Facility and implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). ARGeo was officially launched in November 2010, at the opening session of the Third African Rift Geothermal Conference (ARGeo-C3) in Djibouti.
It aims at supporting the development of the large, untapped geothermal resource potential in the Eastern Africa region with the main objective of reducing the risks associated with the resource’s exploration. ARGeo also aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by promoting the adoption of geothermal energy in the region. ARGeo will also help demonstrate that the resource is reliable, cost effective and indigenous as compared to other sources of power in the Eastern Africa region. The utilization of the resource in agriculture and industry will also be promoted.
*United Nations environment Programme – [email protected]