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Uganda's Geothermal Power Dream Gets UN Boost

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Officials from the Climate Technology Centre Network (CTCN) confirmed that Uganda's Ministry of Energy asked for technical support over the potential of beginning geothermal power generation in areas of Buranga, Kibiro and Panyimur.
Jukka Uosukainen, Climate Technnology Centre and Network Director

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Uganda's vision to tap into its huge geothermal energy potential may soon be realized as a newly established United Nations body, The Climate Technology Centre Network- CTCN sends experts to advise on this untapped renewable energy source.

Uganda has not exploited its geothermal potential over the years due to of lack of technical expertise. There are less than thirty experts in the country versed with this technology.

But officials from the Climate Technology Centre Network (CTCN) confirmed that Uganda's Ministry of Energy asked for technical support over the potential of beginning geothermal power generation in areas of Buranga, Kibiro and Panyimur.

The three sites are located in the tectonically active volcanic belt in the Rift valley along the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Jukka Usukainen, the CTCN Director confirmed that Uganda is among the nine countries seeking for support towards renewable energy solutions like solar and geothermal.

Jukka was speaking to Uganda Radio Network on the sidelines of the on-going UN Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru. 

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However, Paul Isabirye, the National Focal Point Person at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in an interview said he had not been briefed about Uganda's application to the Climate Technology Centre Network.

He said Godfrey Bahati, the Assistant Commissioner, department of Geological survey and mines would be the best person to contact. Bahati is however not in Lima yet.

The country's real geothermal potential is yet to be established but officials from the department of Geological Survey and mines have in the past estimated that about 450 MW of geothermal energy power potential of the country.

Besides the lack of expertise, studies done else in other countries like United States and Nordic countries indicate that the initial cost of establishing geothermal plants are high compared hydro-electric power.

Phillip Hauser, Vice President of a Latin America-bases GDF Suez Energy investment firm in an interview said the cost may be at the initial investment but would become lower in the long run compared to hydroelectricity.

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Geothermal energy comes from reservoirs of steam and hot water beneath the earth's surface.

Some U.S.  and the Nordic geothermal companies at the Climate Conference say  are beginning to see East Africa and Uganda  as an area for potential investment in geothermal.

Neighboring Kenya already runs a huge geothermal plant.