As early as 2006, the government of Rwanda began looking at different ways it could branch out its electricity supply. Geothermal quickly became the most promising technology for the country, located in central and eastern Africa and part of vast, untapped geothermal reserve that spans the region.
Now the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure for Rwanda has revealed the country has begun work on the first of three geothermal wells to be completed next year.
It’s an exciting development for the small sovereign state described as “one of the world’s hottest spots for geothermal activity.”
Rwanda’s geography is dominated by mountains to the west, where exploration into geothermal potential in 2007 quickly narrowed in on three regions that showed promise: Karisimbi, Gisenyi and Kinigi.
The Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) contracted out surface testing that found Rwanda’s geothermal generation estimate to be around 700 megawatts. The energy would be primarily derived from Volcanoes National Park (Karisimbi and Kinigi), the hot springs of Gisenyi and Bugarama.
These areas over the last four years have attracted attention from researchers with the German Federal Institute of Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), the Infrastructure Ministry, and of course KenGen as previously mentioned.
The East African Rift Valley is a geothermal gold mine encompassing 11 countries with an estimated generation potential of 15,000 megawatts. Development in the region is just starting to get underway; preliminary projects have begun in Kenya and Ethiopia.
The work done in Rwanda will join those as among the first of its kind on the continent.