Geothermal Atlas 4 Africa: Mapping geothermal resources for the development of African electricity production and for water use applications

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Work Package (WP)

The Geothermal Atlas 4 Africa project will be developed as LEAP-RE WP 9

Location

All of Africa

Partners

Lead: Universita Degli Studi di Firenze

Overall Objectives

The objective is to define the origin and location of low to high enthalpy geothermal resources for the development of African electricity production, plus a range of direct heat/cold use applications and water use

This will be achieved by identifying, organising, assessing, classifying, and interpreting: (1) geoscientific information (e.g., geology, geochemistry, geophysics), (2) technological information (e.g., existing power plants, installed capacity), and (3) social aspects with a multi-scale approach (local, regional, continental) to define the origin and location of low to high enthalpy geothermal resources for the development of African electricity production, plus a range of direct heat/cold use applications and water use. 

Results will be made available through a Geothermal Atlas for Africa (GAA) printed and online, which will allow easy access to relevant information on geothermal resources for scientists, project developers, policy & decision-makers, and investors. WP9 refers to the LEAP-RE Research area on the assessment of geothermal resources. 

©Egbert Jolie. Field work in Ethiopia (Aluto volcanic complex) with colleagues from the Geological Survey of Ethiopia GSE and the GFZ Potsdam, Germany.
Context: why is this action necessary? 

Low to high enthalpy geothermal resources exist across the African continent, however, the utilisation is still minimal. East Africa has well-known high enthalpy geothermal resources due to its geological setting (East African Rift System). The potential for power generation related to this favourable geological condition is extensive, but geothermal development has (to date) been limited. Kenya is leading the development with an installed capacity of 690 MWe, largely at one site (Olkaria), demonstrating that large-scale development of renewable energy resources can be done in this part of Africa.

The current focus is mainly on high-temperature resources (i.e., East African Rift), while low-medium systems are still neglected, even though they could provide sustainable heat/energy sources for industrial purposes, tourism, and others. If the development of other large- and small-scale systems (both electrical and direct use) is to be achieved, then it is imperative that we have a sufficient understanding of (1) the many geothermal resources (from low to high-enthalpy) on the continent as well as (2) the existing surface infrastructures and (3) social needs and specificities.  

What are the concrete actions that will be implemented? 

The project will be developed in two main areas:

  1. Identification and gathering of existing data and intensive co-operation between African and European partners (e.g. geological surveys, universities, ARGEO, WGC2020 country updates). This encapsulates geoscientific, surface installation, and social aspects.
  2. The diffusion of the information through (1) the processing, interpreting, and illustrating these assessed pieces of information into the Geothermal Atlas for Africa and (2) the identification of knowledge gaps to be developed as courses and projects at the next phase.
Renewables GEO Friendly Integration 
What is the expected impact of the WP? 
  1. Successful identification and development of geothermal systems 
  2. Factors that help enable the construction of existing installations in place (both for high and low enthalpy)
  3. Awareness of infrastructural constraints and social aspects of geothermal development 
  4. Reliable identification of the most suitable areas for combining geothermal projects with other renewables
  5. Cost assessment of geothermal projects and pro/cons of their stand-alone or combined installation with other renewable energy systems
  6. Awareness of sustainability of geothermal projects in Africa in the different areas, relevant for stakeholders, politicians, and decision-makers
  7. Transfer of knowledge and experience from Europe to Africa and from one African country to another
  8. Capacity building for African partners (research, community members, other stakeholders) 
  9. Regional networking and sharing results of research and scientific findings; links between researchers and institutions in Africa and Europe 
  10. Medium-term objective to increase the investment opportunities for foreign companies in Africa