Geothermal drilling to begin in October

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Drilling will begin at four geothermal wells at Aluto Langano this October, Capital learnt. Hopes are that this will develop 35 to 75 MW of energy from the Aluto Langano Geothermal field project.
Since 2010 the Japanese consultant firm WEST JEC in collaboration with the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo) and the Geological Survey of Ethiopia (GSE) had been undertaking feasibility work for the drilling. The study was done to see if it was possible to expand the field to 75 MW by drilling of appraisal and production wells. The study indicated that the expansion plan was feasible.
The World Bank, Japan and the Ethiopian government funded the endeavour. The World Bank and Japan have contributed over USD 20 million for the four wells, while the Ethiopian government covered the balance for other related costs, which when studies are included costs around USD 32 million. The World Bank is expected to fund the Lion’s share. Japan is also transporting drilling machines and other equipment here.
First four appraisal wells will be drilled by the end of 2013.
Then the plan calls for five production wells to be drilled followed by three reinjection wells and the installation of a power plant.
The power production, power plant construction, and substation construction with other project expenses will come to around USD 350 million.
A venture known as the Scaling-up of Renewable Energy Program (SREP), will finance the production and reinjection wells to the tune of USD 23 million. That includes drilling, consultants and training.
These wells will produce steam that will put out 35-75 megawatts of electricity.  Advanced technology allows them to drill to a depth of 2,500 meters. Each individual well will be able to produce 5-10 megawatts.
The Great Rift Valley is estimated to have a high potential for geothermal power. Studies indicate that Ethiopia could produce up to 5,000mw of electric power from its geothermal energy resources.
The government is planning to increase the country’s power generation capacity by identifying and developing geothermal resources in the prospect areas. The government plans to generate 450MW by 2019 and 10,00MW in 2030 from geothermal energy.
WEST JEC, a prominent company largely experienced in similar projects throughout the world, was selected through an international bid.
Geothermal energy has been sought after at Auto Langano since the early 1980’s when exploration wells were first dug. Then in the 1990’s exploration wells were drilled and a pilot plant which put out around 7.3 MW was installed.  Although the initial amount of power was small, EEPCo’s plans for geothermal are big. They see it as a critical stage in development that will serve as a catalyst for obtaining energy self sufficiency and future financing. By 2016 they plan for the Aluto Langano Geothermal Plant to produce a significant amount of energy in addition another site at Tendaho is expected to create five megawatts of additional power.