Geothermal Gold Rush: Africa’s $35 Billion Energy Revolution

by Adenike Adeodun

Africa’s burgeoning geothermal sector will attract a remarkable $35 billion in investments by 2050. Rystad Energy’s recent report highlights this significant growth trajectory, emphasizing the focus on Kenya and Ethiopia along the prolific East African Rift. These countries are central to this development, likely accounting for about 90% of Africa’s expected 13 GW of geothermal capacity by 2050.

This surge in investment will propel Africa to become the third-largest geothermal power generator by 2030, overtaking Europe’s capacity. “The geothermal industry in Africa is picking up steam and could meet soaring demand across the continent in the decades to come,” says Daniel Holmedal, Senior Supply Chain Analyst at Rystad Energy. He notes that the analysis of announced projects signals substantial growth, with further developments expected based on economic and demand considerations.

Kenya’s Olkaria Geothermal Power Station, the largest on the continent, is a prime example of this growth. With a capacity of 750 MW, Olkaria contributes about 51% of Kenya’s total installed capacity. The facility includes four geothermal plants, Olkaria I-IV, which extract steam from wells drilled 3,000 meters deep into the East African Rift’s geothermal resources.

Following Olkaria’s success, Kenya’s Geothermal Development Company is actively leading several new geothermal projects. These include the 465 MW Menengai Geothermal Project, the 750 MW Suswa Geothermal Project, and the under-drilling Baringo-Silali Geothermal Project.

According to a report by Energy Capital & Power, Ethiopia is also making notable strides in the geothermal sector. The Aluto-Langano Geothermal Power Station, producing 7.3 MW, marks the start of Ethiopia’s ambitious geothermal journey. Aiming for a massive 35,000 MW of installed capacity by 2050, the government is developing up to 17 geothermal projects, including Tulu Moye, Aluto-Langano, and Corbetti Geothermal Power Stations.

The combined efforts of Ethiopia and Kenya are poised to revolutionize Africa’s energy landscape. By 2050, these two nations alone will likely supply a combined 222 TWH of geothermal power, significantly up from the current capacity of 34 TWH. This growth highlights Africa’s potential in geothermal energy and its commitment to sustainable and renewable sources.

In conclusion, the geothermal sector in Africa is witnessing a resurgence, with Kenya and Ethiopia as the leading countries. The continent is not only fulfilling its energy requirements but is also setting an exemplary standard in the utilization of renewable energy. This geothermal boom, supported by substantial investments and strategic advancements, is expected to turn Africa into a major global energy hub by 2050.

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