TANESCO maps out geothermal sourcing

02Feb 2024
Marc Nkwame
The Guardian
TANESCO maps out geothermal sourcing
  • Oldonyo Lengai active volcano is flagship project

DEVELOPING geothermal power sources in to cater for rising electricity supply needs is beginning to take shape with plans to harness an active volcano near Lake Natron in Arusha Region.

Mathew Mwangomba, the general manager for the TANESCO subsidiary, the Tanzania Geothermal Development Co. (TGDC), laid out these plans here yesterday at the two day Tanzania energy cooperation conference, an annual gathering of power sector stakeholders.

Tanzania has so far identified 52 sites in 16 regions that have ample potential to generate geothermal power, he said, noting that initial development for the proposed Oldonyo Lengai project is expected to start next month.

TGDC is also developing the Lake Ngozi geothermal power plant in Mbeya Region, slated to add 70 megawatts of power to the national grid, he said, affirming that geothermal energy is more sustainable and affordable.

Upwards of 16 regions have been found to have ample geothermal potential, which altogether comes to 5,000MW generated from the ground, with initial plans projecting 200 MW supply by 2025, he explained.

He told the gathering that the country has over 15,000 megawatts “buried underground and yet to be tapped,” intoning that this accounts for nearly 10 percent of the total geothermal potential found across the continent by available data.

Gissima Nyamo-Hanga, the TANESCO managing director, said that the state power firm, seeking to ensure that electricity is available throughout all seasons and around the year, intends to tap wind and solar power, along with emerging geothermal sourcing.

He even talked of generating electricity from coal and nuclear power plants in the future, looking across the border where Kenya already yields over 1000 MW from geothermal sources.

The Olkaria IV power plant near the highlands city of Nakuru is one of the world’s largest single turbine geothermal power plants, generating 140MW, he said, he told the conference bringing together key stakeholders from public sector firms and private power companies.

Organisers said the conference was geared to solution-driven dialogues, relaying progress on energy projects across the region.

With ongoing investments in infrastructure and a commitment to renewable energy sources, Tanzania is well on its way to becoming a pivotal player in fostering sustainable energy cooperation and development across East Africa, solidifying its role in the regional energy landscape, he asserted.

Regional power utilities, development finance institutions, independent power producers, financiers and solution providers gathered for the fifth Tanzania energy cooperation conference, otherwise known as a stakeholders’ summit, as an invaluable opportunity for a two-day immersion into proactive and solution-oriented discussions.

The summit examined a broad range of issues, including successful examples of public private partnerships in generation and transmission, as well as the role of DFIs in enhancing credit to accelerate projects.

Focus was also directed at Tanzania's plans to become a critical regional player through transmission and interconnection projects, examining what is needed for Tanzania to reach its total renewable energy potential, he added.