By Ibrahim Kasita
UGANDA will start a geothermal resources department in the ministry of energy and mineral development to develop underground energy for electricity production.
Geothermal energy is the heat from the earth and is recognised as renewable energy resources like hydropower and biomass.
The existence of recent volcanic activity in the western rift valley makes the region ideal for geothermal energy due to relatively high heat flow rates in the area.
“In order to fast track the development of geothermal energy, the Government is establishing a geothermal resources department,” Vincent Kato, the principal geologist in the department of geology survey and mines, said.
“This is awaiting a certificate of financial implication from the finance ministry. This department will steer geothermal energy development in Uganda.”
The creation of standalone geothermal entities is not new. Kenya established the Geothermal Development Company and Tanzania is forming an independent institution to do the same.
Kato disclosed that Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has extended technical assistance to assess all the geothermal resource sites in Uganda and rank the most prospective for future development.
“JICA will extend technical assistance to develop the highly ranked geothermal prospect. They visited 17 sites in south west and western Uganda in seven districts,” he said.
Kato said the Government is undertaking surface studies in Panyimur (Nebbi), Kibiro (Hoima), Katwe-Kikorongo (Kasese) and Buranga (Bundibugyo-Ntoroko) area.
“In addition, the Government is undertaking studies on other geothermal sites (stocktaking its geothermal resources), establishing and managing data bases and human capital development in Iceland and Kenya. So far 25 Ugandans have been trained in geothermal related disciplines.
“The Government is now procuring equipment to image the underground and locate the geothermal reservoir for drilling,” Kato said.
Seven companies have been licenced to explore for geothermal resources but all of them lack technical, financial and operation resources to explore and develop geothermal power.
They include Katwe Geothermal Power Project Ltd, Gids Consult Ltd, Cozumel Energy Uganda Ltd, Moberge Finance Ltd, Clean Source Energy Partners and Pawakom International Ltd and Ascot Associates.
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Uganda to set up geothermal energy entity