Geothermal Energy Exploration in Uganda, Country Update
Godfrey BAHATI and James Francis NATUKUNDA
[Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Uganda]
Exploration for geothermal energy in Uganda has been in progress since 1993. The studies by the Ministry responsible for Energy and Mineral Development have focused on four major geothermal areas namely Katwe, Buranga, Kibiro, and Panyimur. The overall objective of the study is to develop geothermal energy to complement hydro and other sources of power to meet the energy demand of rural areas in sound environment. The studies have used geological, geochemical, hydrological and geophysical methods with the aim of elucidating subsurface temperatures and the spatial extent of geothermal systems, and in turn come up with conceptual models that would be a basis for drilling exploration wells. The results indicate that the geothermal activity in the four areas appears to be fault-controlled deep circulation systems rather than magmatically heated systems associated with volcanoes, which is consistent with the revised view on geothermal prospects in the Western Branch of the East African Rift System. Subsurface temperatures of approximately 130-150˚C for Katwe, 120-150˚C for Buranga, 150-250˚C for Kibiro, and 110-140˚C for Panyimur have been predicted by geothermometry and mixing models. In other areas, the current results suggest geothermal potentials with subsurface temperatures of 100-160˚C. In all the areas, the temperatures are good for electricity generation and direct use in industry, agriculture and tourism. Three areas namely Kibiro, Panyimur and Buranga have reached advanced stages of surface exploration, subsurface conceptual models have been developed and temperature gradient wells (TGW) sited at all the three prospects. Drilling of TGW is to start in 2020 the results of which will be used to update the conceptual models that will be a basis for locating sites for deep exploration wells. Other achievements of the Ministry include (i) Creation of a Geothermal Resources Department through restructuring of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development in 2014 to focus on exploration, promotion, licensing and management of geothermal resources; (ii) Formulation of a Geothermal Policy a draft of which is being finalized for presentation to Cabinet for approval; (iii) capacity building that includes equipment and training of Ugandans; (iv) Sensitization of local governments and communities about the benefits of geothermal energy; (v) Preliminary environmental baseline studies at Kibiro and Panyimur geothermal prospects; (vi) creation of a database and website to house all geoscience information and data related to the geothermal industry; and (vii) development of business and financial models to guide the explorers and developers on the most appropriate models to use in a specific prospect. The challenges include inadequate policy, legal and regulatory frameworks to guide public interventions on a strategic basis; high geological risk; inability to attract significant financial support from International Development Partners; inadequate data and information to guide decision-makers; unskilled workforce capable of maintaining a sustainable geothermal industry; low awareness amongst the public and limited community participation in geothermal exploration and development.
|        Topic: Country Updates||Paper Number: 01029|