Having drilled two exploration wells southwest of Mbeya this year, Geothermal Power Tanzania (GPT) has achieved promising results for potential steam generation in at least two areas. By investing as much as 350 million US dollars into drilling production wells Tanzania could produce first power from a 140 megawatt geothermal plant by 2018.
Tanzania is in need of the development of geothermal energy as hydropower is no longer a reliable source of renewable energy. For years Tanzania has been suffering from recurring droughts causing surface water reservoirs to run dry. To substitute this Tanzania has the ability to unlock a large geothermal potential. The country is located in a favorable geological position sharing the same large fault systems of the East African Rift Valley with Kenya. More than 10,000 megawatts are waiting to be exploited from geothermal reservoirs. Kenya is Africans largest producer of geothermal energy. The country needed about a quarter of a century to establish this form of energy in its national energy supply. In contrast, Tanzania will benefit from the large international technical progress geothermal energy has experienced during the last 20 years. “Tanzania is endeavoring to fast track geothermal development”, GPT Chairman Graeme Robertson said in an interview with Bloomberg.com last week.
GPT owns six prospecting licenses in Tanzania. The company intends to start producing power by the middle of next year with initial development of a 2MW wellhead generator. These modular generator units start generating power once the development of a steam field is completed. This means energy can be produced much faster than awaiting the construction of a large and full equipped power plant. In the medium term the company plans to set up generation units capable of producing five to ten megawatts and eventually higher, depending on the flow rates, says Robertson.