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Geothermal power in East Africa

Climate-friendly energy from the earth

View of the geothermal power station Olkaria in Kenya

The future of electricity generation in East Africa lies in the earth – because the potential for generating power from geothermal sources along the East African Rift Valley is enormous. Yet only about 20 per cent of the people in the region have access to electricity.

Kenya and Ethiopia are currently the only countries in the region using geothermal resources to generate electricity. Exploratory drilling is expensive. In addition, the risk of failing to find a suitable resource is high, even after extensive preliminary geological investigations. Many investors therefore shy away from the investment involved, despite the fact that geothermal power – once tapped – is a constant, clean and low-cost source of energy.

It is for this reason that the BMZ has set up a Geothermal Risk Mitigation Facility (GRMF), which also receives financial support from the EU and the UK. This fund co-finances geological analysis of geothermal fields and the first rounds of exploratory drilling, which involve great financial risk, thus reducing the financial risk to investors.

Public and private geothermal power developers from eleven East African countries can apply for co-financing from the GRMF. The first developers started exploratory drilling in 2016. There is considerable interest in the scheme: the fourth application round started in June 2016 and has again attracted a large number of applicants. A fifth round is planned for late 2017.

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