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Tanzania Aims to Reduce Power Shortages by Developing Geothermal

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Sept. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Tanzania, East Africa’s second-biggest economy, aims to relieve electricity shortages by promoting geothermal energy as the country looks for sources of renewable power.

“We are moving toward more environmentally friendly sources of energy as our demand increases,” Energy and Minerals Deputy Minister Adam Malima said today in an interview in Nairobi. “We are looking to the private sector to see if there is interest in geothermal development.”

Drought has drained Tanzania’s main hydropower dams, resulting in power rationing amid a 264-megawatt grid deficit, Energy Minister William Ngeleja said on Feb. 16. Peak power demand is expected to rise to 1,994 megawatts by 2026, compared with 727 megawatts in 2005, according to the Geological Survey of Tanzania.

Tanzania is situated in the East African Rift System, where splitting tectonic plates store an estimated 15,000-megawatts of geothermal potential, according to a report distributed by the United Nations Environment Program at a geothermal conference in Nairobi. The country has as much as 650 megawatts of potential geothermal resources in the Mbeya region, Malima said.

“If we do more work then we will discover more,” Malima said. “The challenge is the huge investment cost in the exploratory work.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah McGregor in Nairobi at smcgregor5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net