M a r k e t N e w s

Africa: Tanzania Can Learn From Iceland Geothermal Energy Strides

Posted on : Friday, 26th August 2016

 Iceland — Geothermal energy is not among the much known sources of energy in Tanzania.

 
However, the country is believed to be endowed with an abundant resource base that can generate electricity and furthermore utilise the spent geothermal fluid from power plant in social-economic activities such as agriculture, fishing, and recreational activities and in industries. According to the available geoscientific data and current technology, the crude estimated potential of above 5,000MW of electricity has been established in Tanzania.
 
So what really is geothermal energy?
 
It is simply the heat derived from the core of the earth as a result of reactions/decays of radioactive materials. On the surface, geothermal energy is usually manifested by presence of hot springs, fumaroles, steaming ground and altered ground, among other geothermal signatures.
 
In Tanzania, some of these manifestations are found in Maji ya Moto in Arusha, Kisaki-Morogoro, Luhoi and Utete in Rufiji, Kilambo in Busokelo (Mbeya) and Maji ya Moto area in Songwe.
 
Most of these indications are located in the Tanzania along the Eastern African Rift which has traversed the country in both eastern and western arms, that is to say, Tanzania is strategically located and can utilise the available potential.
 
According to studies done, geothermal energy has been proved to be renewable, affordable, reliable and environmentally friendly electricity supply. Contrary to other power generation technologies, geothermal power plants operate at a consistent base load power production level twenty-four hours a day regardless of changing weather, providing a uniquely reliable and continuous source of clean energy.
 
As a baseload power source, geothermal is well suited as a substitute for diesel based generation power in our utility system.
 
Since geothermal resources have to be cultivated locally, its development brings significant economic advantages to local economies.
 
In Iceland, geothermal energy has played a key role in today's improved quality life of Icelanders, Dr Haukur Ingi Jonasson from Reykjavík University says. In fact, Iceland was once the world's poorest third world country 70 years ago, dependent upon peat and imported coal for its energy needs.
 
Iceland utilised its strategic geological volcanic location in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge to develop its huge geothermal potential and made transition to the 20th century. Currently Iceland with total surface area of 103,000 square kilometres and with a total population of 336,000 has installed electricity capacity of 2,771MW, where geothermal constitute 665 MW (24 per cent) of the total generation, according to statistics available in the Iceland National Energy Authority.
 
Iceland being a cold climate country with annual temperature ranging from -10 °C to 15 °C, electricity is not only main form of geothermal energy utilisation, geothermal hot waters are used to provide heating in various social and economic activities.
 
For example, 90 per cent of Icelandic homes are heated with geothermal water, 85 per cent greenhouses farms are heated with hot geothermal water, swimming pools are heated with the geothermal hot water including the famous Blue Lagoon which attract close to 1 million tourists annually. Roughly 15 per cent of large fish farming projects are done with help of hot geothermal waters where 7,000 tonnes were produced in 2013. Football fields across the country are fitted with geothermal heating to keep the pitches, players and fans warm throughout the year.
 
There are endless success stories about the geothermal industry in Iceland, but what can Tanzania learn from all this?
 
Firstly, it is advisable to establish a Geothermal Development Institution that should be backed up by strong legal and regulatory framework, says Mr Engilbert Guðmundsson, the former World Bank Partnership Coordinator for multilateral financial institutions and Director General of Icelandic International Development Agency (ICEIDA).
 
The government of Tanzania has already established the Tanzania Geothermal Development Company (TGDC), which is a subsidiary company of Tanesco and is a 100 per cent state-owned agency. The aim of TGDC is to accelerate the development of geothermal resources in the country and to realize its ambitious vision of 2025.
 
However, the current geothermal regulatory framework is not well coordinated. There is still no geothermal policy and no legislation that can link together all the existing structure.
 
Secondly, there is need to have a risk profile and financing arrangement.
 
"Geothermal industry is associated with highest degree of uncertainty at the early stage of exploration which is also accompanied with high upfront costs and hence little participation of private sector at this phase," says Dr Bjarni Pálsson, Manager Power Projects Department in Iceland National Power Company.
 
He says the government of Iceland together with available geothermal risks mitigation facilities in Europe carry these risks through financing between $25 million and $35 million till confirming the existing of the resource. The private sector comes in later and finances the power plant construction under the suitable Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements.
 
Comprehensive business cases outlining number of options with all risks must be prepared in advance to recommend further commitment of funds. Tanzania is eligible in various financing windows that can co-finance the early stage of geothermal exploration.
 
Some of these options include Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) with Scaling Up Renewable Energy in Low Income Countries Program (SREP) and Clean Technology Fund (CTF) both administered by the African Development Bank (AfDB), Geothermal Risk Mitigation Fund (GRMF) under African Union.
 
Thirdly, Institutional strengthening and capacity Building-Geothermal is multidisciplinary industry as it cuts across science, engineering, social and environmental know-how.
 
Tanzania has so far limited experts in the industry. United Nations Univeristy Geothermal Training Programme UNU-GPT in Reykjavík Iceland under support of the UNDP, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Iceland and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have been financing fellowships to assisting developing countries around the world with significant geothermal potential in building up groups of specialists that cover most aspects of geothermal exploration and development in short courses, Masters and PhD studies.
 
According to Dr Lúdvík S. Georgsson, director at UNU GTP, until 2015, only about 10 Tanzanians have taken short courses and Master's degree studies in the programme compared to 109 Kenyans who have taken up courses of up to PhD level.
 
In addition to human resources development the government of Kenya has invested in developing geothermal capacity of 594MW. The government of Tanzania through its geothermal implementation institutions needs to emulate Kenya so as to fast-track development of geothermal industry in the country.
 
Lastly, geothermal development doesn't offer immediate solutions to existing power problems. Development of geothermal field from the exploration phase to full convectional power plant (with exclusion of wellhead generation) can take several years ranging from five to nine and also requires a lot of resources since geothermal development are an expensive venture. In some countries like Kenya, a new concept of wellhead generation has been adopted. This concept enables project owner to generate power within a year and relieve itself from the long wait for the conventional power plant development period.
 
Stepwise resource development is the best mode to understand the geothermal resource, power plants as small as a few tens of Megawatts can be economically built to start generation.
 
Geothermal is truly renewable, reliable, affordable and environmentally friendly energy. The key stakeholders must collectively strategize and prioritise plans to accelerate the development of the untapped geothermal resources in the country.
 
Government involvement in financing the upstream activities is one very fundamental step to speed up development of geothermal energy in the country.
 
Geothermal policy, legislation and regulatory framework must be established to link with available frameworks and consequently encourage participation of private sector.
 
Stepwise generation of geothermal power is vital for understanding the reservoir behaviour and avoiding possibility of depleting the reservoir due to overexploitation.
 
Geothermal energy, if properly developed will be able to power the industries in environmentally friendly way and will pave a way to meet the country industrialization objectives as stated in Tanzania Development Vision 2025 and as advocated by President John Magufuli.

Source : allafrica.com
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