The Electricity Regulatory Authority has received an application from Bantu Energy (U) Limited for the generation of 10MW of geothermal electricity, which, if approved, will be the first such project in the country.
The license application is the boldest step yet taken by a company seeking to generate geothermal power and sell it onto the national grid in Uganda. Bantu Energy, a subsidiary of UK firm Bantu RG Energy, has undertaken the feasibility studies for the project.
In a notice published last week, the ERA says: “The licence will enable Bantu Energy (U) Limited to construct, generate and sell 10MW of electricity from the Panyimur Geothermal Power Plant proposed to be established in Panyimur Sub-county, Pakwach district.”
The advert further calls on anyone opposed to the project, to write to the ERA by February 24, stating their reasons.
Uganda harbours ambitions of adding geothermal energy to its energy mix in order to have different options of sources of electricity. The country estimates to have the potential to generate just under 400MW of geothermal energy. Other areas thought to have geothermal sources of energy are Kibiro, Katwe, Buranga, all of them in Western Uganda.
The country has a draft energy policy in place which is clear on how it intends to support geothermal energy generation. The policy talks of how government will formulate innovative financing mechanisms for developers of geothermal power projects. These mechanisms can come through tax incentives.
Uganda’s energy mix is heavily dependent on hydroelectricity power, which accounts for more than 60 per cent. This figure will go further up when the 600MW Karuma hydropower is commissioned in the third quarter of this year. Although putting up hydropower projects is cheaper compared to say geothermal energy plants, hydropower is affected in times of drought when the water levels are low.
Uganda might tap into Kenya’s broad geothermal energy experience. The neighbouring country is the largest geothermal producer in Africa. KenGen, the Kenyan company in charge of some the largest geothermal projects in Africa, earlier said it is exploring expansion policies to export its expertise in other countries.