Harnessing earth’s heat: Exploring the potential of geothermal energy in Africa

geothermal energy

Harnessing earth’s heat: Exploring the potential of geothermal energy in Africa

Employing minerals found on Earth like geothermal energy which is a renewable energy source that may generate electricity sustainably. It comes from hot springs or reservoirs that are close to the surface, and it is produced and stored in the earth.  


These hot springs are located in regions of the Earth’s crust where water seeps into volcanic activity and superheats before rising to the surface. Through electromagnetic induction, heat from the hot water can be transformed into energy. Geothermal heat is a dependable renewable energy source since it may produce electricity that is not reliant on the weather. 


Africa, which makes up 63 sovereign territories and makes up approximately one-fifth of the planet’s land area, is the second-largest continent in the world after Asia. Its borders are as follows: the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Indian and Atlantic Oceans connecting to the south, the Red and Indian Seas to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.  


It is widely acknowledged that African nations must embrace innovative approaches to meet their energy needs by utilizing renewable energy resources, given the skyrocketing cost of petroleum resources and the urgent need to combat climate change. Therefore, Africa’s geothermally active regions have a significant potential to supply the continent with essential energy resources.  


By 2022, the economies of East Africa are expected to produce 630 MW of electricity per year from their geothermal resources.  


Kenya leads the continent of Africa in the number of operating geothermal power plants, accounting for almost 40% of the nation’s total electricity generation. In the late 1970s, Kenya started looking into geothermal energy. Kenya is among the top ten countries in the world for geothermal application advancement, according to the Geothermal Council Resource. 


Exploring geothermal energy in Africa for energy 


Exploration of geothermal energy can be costly and dangerous. Similar to oil and gas exploration, it is only after drilling has occurred that a site’s precise potential can be evaluated and determined. Africa’s geothermal potential is further hindered by inadequate funding, the absence of technical know-how, and bad governance.  


A lot of governments are still building their sector-specific knowledge bases. The rights and obligations of holders of various types of licenses (exploration, development, use, and sale) for geothermal exploration and production must be regulated, as well as investment schemes, development activities, power generation and distribution, and geothermal production. Countries that do not yet have laws governing these matters must either amend their current ones or create new ones. 


Africa’s potential energy requirements will require careful consideration and attention at the legislative, technological, and commercial levels if it is to prosper in the fast-expanding global economy and maintain its economic competitiveness. The continent’s present electricity demand cannot be met by relying solely on expensive fossil fuels, hence governments, FDIs, and regulators in Africa must actively pursue alternate energy sources.


Renewable energy sources would boost economic development and activity in the region and help eradicate poverty and deprivation among the people of Africa. The continent can receive dependable, sustainable energy from geothermal energy production for a long time, hence more research into this mostly unexplored possibility should be supported. 


Sustainable geothermal projects also require efficient resource evaluation and geothermal exploration. With the use of seismic investigations, geophysical surveys, and geochemical analysis to help locate possible geothermal locations, Uganda has made significant progress in this area. Sustained endeavors toward resource evaluation will guarantee knowledgeable decision-making and efficient employment of geothermal resources. 


Electricity is produced by geothermal power plants by using the heat energy that exists within the Earth. Geothermal power plants can be classified into three basic categories: dry steam, binary cycle, and flash steam. 


Geothermal energy is an eco-friendly option since it is a clean, renewable energy source with low greenhouse gas emissions. Geothermal energy does not significantly contribute to the atmospheric emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, or nitrogen oxides, in contrast to fossil fuel-based power generation. 


Baseload capacity is provided by geothermal power plants, which are a consistent and dependable supply of electricity that can run around the clock. Geothermal energy ensures a steady supply of electricity because it is not reliant on outside variables like wind or solar energy, which are affected by the weather. 

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