Overview of the geothermal power plant Olkaria, Kenya

Geothermal power Energy from deep within the Earth

Only roughly 0.5 per cent of the energy generated from renewable sources is currently accounted for by geothermal energy. Yet the high temperatures inside the Earth offer an almost inexhaustible potential of energy that is available round the clock.

Geothermal technology extracts the heat from inside the Earth and uses it to heat water or generate steam. This can then be used to drive turbines to generate electricity or for heating.

Complex exploration involving financial risks

Especially countries located close to continental shelf edges, for instance along the Pacific Ring of Fire or the East African Rift, have huge geothermal potential. So far, however, this energy is hardly being used. This is often because there is little knowledge about the locally available resource or because no one is ready to take the financial risk of an exploration. In order to determine the geothermal potential of a region, preliminary studies must be conducted at the surface along with complex exploratory drillings that go several thousand meters into the ground. Apart from these initial investments geothermal energy is one of the most cost-effective and reliable sources of energy.

German activities

On behalf of the BMZ, the Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe (BGR – the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources) is promoting the use of geothermal energy. Partner organisations in Central America and in Indonesia are receiving support for assessing the geothermal potential of certain locations, exploring the sites and training skilled staff. Together with the African Union, the BGR has developed a practical handbook (External link) for geothermal drilling in East Africa. Applications to the AU for financial support for further drillings have also been supported.

As at: 25/07/2023