State utility firm Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) on Monday signed an agreement with two Chinese firms and one Kenyan firm for the 70 MW geothermal energy drilling project.
The two Chinese firms were Shandong Kerui Oilfield Service Group and Shandong Kerui Oilfield Service Group. Another firm Kenya Electricity Generating Company was also part of the agreement.
In a press statement, EEP said the two Chinese firms and one Kenyan firm are expected to supply drilling materials as well as drill wells for possible geothermal energy sources in central Ethiopia. Named the Aluto- Langano geothermal project, it’s part of the Ethiopian government’s plans to generate up to 5,000 MW of geothermal energy in the coming few years.
Ethiopia currently produces only 7.3 MW of geothermal energy. EEP said the agreement with the three firms will see the drilling initially of 22 wells to probe their geothermal energy generation potential.
EEP further said the geothermal energy project is expected to consume 173.2 million U.S. dollars, with the World Bank expected to cover the total project’s cost through loans and grants.
Ethiopia has the longest section of the 7,000-km East African Rift Valley, which boasts an estimated geothermal potential of 10,000 megawatts (MW), but the country has been unable to match the neighboring Kenya’s installed geothermal power capacity of about 630 MW.
Geothermal energy is considered a reliable renewable energy sources although it involves a greater start-up cost.