Africa’s geothermal power capacity is set to more than double in the next 7 years, according to Rystad Energy, with the consulting firm expecting the figure to reach 13 GW by 2050, up from just about 1 GW today. It appears Africa’s geothermal industry is set to overtake Europe’s.
Generating electricity from geothermal resources involves harnessing superheated pools of water and steam created by magma flowing deep below the Earth’s surface. Where geological conditions allow, these resources can be piped to the surface and converted to power.
Kenya’s Notable Geothermal Journey In Focus
According to Rystad, Kenya is now producing 6.5 terrawatt hours (TWh) of electricity from geothermal sources, accounting for nearly half of its total supply. Rapid developments over the past decade have helped the country become the 7th largest geothermal producer in the world.
KenGen operates multiple geothermal power stations in Kenya. The power company has announced a 48% spike in pre-tax profits in the year to June 30. Geothermal allowed it to continue uninterrupted supplies, even as drought affected hydropower facilities.
Kenyan companies are increasingly active in helping neighbouring countries harness their geothermal resources. Rystad lists Ethiopia, Zambia, Tanzania and Djibouti as the other key countries for geothermal energy. But so far, they have failed to match the pace of Kenya.
Harnessing Geothermal Resources In Ethiopia
Ethiopia possesses comparable geothermal potential to Kenya. But power supply in the country has primarily been met by hydropower so far, so it has not been as important to harness its geothermal resources, said Daniel Holmedal, senior supply chain analyst at Rystad Energy.
Additionally, companies trying to harness geothermal resources in Ethiopia have faced a series of problems, including political instability, the COVID pandemic and effects of the Tigray War. Geothermal developers also raise alarms over a lack of support in the country.
Still, Holmedal struck an optimistic tone, noting: “We expect in Ethiopia to see a more diverse power mix in the coming decades and geothermal should start playing a more important role.” Rystad forecasts Ethiopia’s involvement with geothermal energy to become considerable.