- Comoros, still totally dependent on expensive diesel-powered energy, finally sees major investments in its large potential of geothermal energy. The volcanic archipelago could become self-supplied in energy.
Officials in Comoros are "delighted" to register that international capital finally has found its way to the archipelago to invest in the volcanic islands' believed potential of geothermal energy. Geologically, Comoros should have a potential to meet all its energy demands from its volcanic activity, many experts believe.
Capital indeed comes from overseas, with Australia-based Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM) and New Zealand-based Gafo Energy now joining forces to map the Comoran potential of geothermal energy. Gafo this week announced it would invest euro 120 million in surveying and installing a geothermal project in Comoros.
SKM is to carry out the research, survey and analysis phase of the project, which entails geology and chemistry fieldwork and a geophysical survey of the three Comoros islands; Grand Comore, Moheli and Anjouan. Gafo, on the other hand contributes with its expertise in geothermal development, and will run the possible geothermal power generation if potentials are as expected.
Gafo Energy already is a developer of geothermal power generation along East Africa's Great Rift Valley and nearby volcanic islands. In late 2009, the government of Comoros granted Gafo exclusive rights for Comoros geothermal projects, according to a press release by the New Zealand company.
The islands of the Comoros archipelago were formed by volcanic activity. On Grand Comore, where the capital and largest city Moroni lies, the most outstanding feature is Mount Karthala, the country's highest point and one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Also Anjouan and Moheli islands have volcanic activity.
But none of this potential energy is currently used. Zoubert Al Ahdal, Comoran Ambassador in Abu Dhabi, therefore said he was "delighted" by the significant investment in Comoros to "help displace the dependency on diesel-powered energy." The potential to generate energy from a local source would "benefit the people of Comoros and the environment," Mr Ahdal added.
World-wide, geothermal energy remains a small source of renewable energy, but in countries where conditions are good, it can be a major source. Iceland, a volcanic island in the North Atlantic, has managed to produce almost all of its energy needs from geothermal sources, to such an extent that energy on the island is cheap enough to attract international energy demanding industries.
Also in Africa, geothermal energy is now advancing in geologically active zones. Kenya has taken the lead in Africa, with an installed capacity of 167 megawatt in 2010 and a forecasted installed capacity of 530 megawatt in 2015. Ethiopia has just started developing geothermal energy and projects an installed capacity of 45 megawatt by 2015.
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