Written By: Jim Greenberg
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Reykjavik Geothermal have announced plans to develop a 1000MW geothermal plant in Ethiopia -one of the largest in the world.
US-Icelandic geothermal development company, Reykjavik Geothermal (RG) has agreed to develop one the world’s largest geothermal power projects in the Corbetti area in Ethiopia to help East African communities harness their own energy. Becoming Ethiopia’s first independent power project, and the largest in Africa, the plant will increase energy supply access in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania.
The plant, part of president Barack Obama’s $7 billion Power Africa initiative -a new initiative to double access to power in sub-Saharan Africa, will be built in two 500 megawatts (MW) phases. The first 10MW of power will be available in 2015 and by 2018, 500 MW will be operational.
Reykjavik Geothermal who have previously helped 30 other countries build and develop power plants, expects to invest a total of $4 billion into Ethiopia’s new plant, with Ethiopian Electric Power Corp. agreeing to buy all of the plants produced electricity under a 25-year contract.
“Africa needs to transform and energy is at the center of that transformation”, said Ethiopia prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn. “My vision is that over the next 30 years, we will need to harness as much as 80,000MW of hydro geothermal, wind and solar power, not just for Ethiopia, but for our neighbouring countries as well.”
He added, “This cannot be done by public investment alone; we will need to partner with private sectors. From that perspective, this 1000MW with RG is not that large -but it’s a great start. Aid is not a solution. Trade and investment is a solution. Trade and investment have a lasting impact.”
According to data compiled by Bloomberg, East Africa’s Great Rift Valley offers as much as 20 gigawatts (GW) of potential geothermal energy. Mark Taylor, a Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst suggests that the agreement between Reykjavik Geothermal and Ethiopia may be one of many to emerge on the continent.