The African Clean Energy Race: Kenya vs. Ethiopia

Team Ethiopia

The Ethiopian government has set bold plans with the release of its strategy for economic growth and a green economy.   Like Kenya – Ethiopia’s clean energy focus is around geothermal, wind and solar.  

Ethiopia is betting big on a project in partnership with Reykjavik Geothermal that would be the largest geothermal project in Africa.  As outlined in this document, the project involves setup of the Corbetti Geothermal Power company to construct a geothermal power project of 1000+ MWe in two phases, with the first 500 MWe of power to be online in five years and the remaining 500 MWe in eight years.  Although it is still in the early stages, preliminary work and feasibility studies have been completed with very positive results.  

The Corbetti Caldera Geothermal Project

Natural geothermal steam (fumarole) rises from the ground in a ravine within the Corbetti Caldera. Credit: Robert Sauers, USAID Ethiopia.

In 2013, Ethiopia the Ashegoda windfarm became operational.  With 84 turbines and a capacity of 120 MW, it’s the largest windfarm in Africa.  The expected production of 400 GWh / year would be equivalent to approximately 10% of the country’s power production.  Ethiopia also recently implemented two smaller wind farms in Adama, each with capacity of 51 MW.  There is a good overview presentation here from Vergnet, the project operator.

In solar energy, Ethiopia is still in the early stages but is making progress on several fronts.  Plans have been signed off for the development of three 100 MW solar farms in Eastern Ethiopia and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for delivery of the project has been signed with US company Green Technology Africa.  It has also recently announced plans for use of new solar hybrid technology that is visually some of the coolest renewable energy technology out there.  It’s from a company called Auro and is called a “solar tulip”.  The hybrid aspect comes from the collection of solar energy combined with the heating of oil to drive turbines in the “tulip” portion of the plant.  You can read more about it here.  Finally, Ethiopia is now producing its own solar panels through a plant in Addis Ababa.   The work is done through a partnership with a  US company called SKYei which starting making panels there in 2013.  
pic: solar tulip

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