UK firms eye Dar’s renewable energy sector

October 2, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

By Lucas Liganga
The Citizen Chief Reporter
Dar es Salaam.Nineteen British companies are keen to invest in Tanzania’s solar, wind and geothermal energy sector, which has huge energy potential to meet the country’s energy needs.Half the country’s electricity is generated from hydropower. On Monday, the British government said the firms were willing to lend Tanzania their expertise in developing the resources necessary to boost its power supply.  

In 2011, Tanzania had a total installed renewable capacity of 597 megawatts from biomass, geothermal, hydroelectricity, solar and wind. Globally, the Tanzania energy renewable market ranks at number 95 for total installed renewable capacity, behind Cote d’Ivoire with 606MW and ahead of Macedonia with 528MW.
The world leader for total installed renewable capacity in 2011 was China, with 301,440 megawatts—520.62 times larger than Tanzania.

A number of rural renewable energy projects have been initiated by the local private sector. Some 80 potential projects have been identified, 22 of them considered a priority with confirmed sponsors and detailed design studies completed or underway. They have a cumulative total size of 78MW.

Said the British Energy and Climate Change minister, Mr Gregory Barker: “With gas discoveries, Tanzania has huge potential for renewable energy which is yet to be fully tapped.”

He was speaking at the end of a one-day visit to Tanzania. The British consider the country a potential lucrative destination for international investments in renewable energy projects.

Mr Barker was leading a high-powered delegation of experts drawn from the UK’s renewable energy developers, the financial services sector and the insurance industry.

The delegation held talks with senior public and private sector figures in the renewable energy and investment fields and met potential local partners and members of key international financing institutions.   Mr Barker said UK firms have significant expertise in supplying global technological and service solutions and supporting the private sector in the renewable energy industry.

“Not only will partnerships being discussed during our mission benefit Tanzania directly by helping provide reliable sources of energy, but they will also benefit the rest of the world,” he said.

Tanzania has recently introduced small-scale wind turbine schemes to benefit local populations, but the government has recently identified other areas for large wind farm developments with impressive potential.
Mr Barker said there were also many opportunities for strong partnerships in low carbon growth. The growing global market for low carbon environmental goods and services is estimated to be worth $5.2trillion and is projected to be worth more than $6.5trillion by 2015.

“My overall goal is to meet with government, science communities, and business, to explore how together we can develop well-rounded partnerships in sustainable and green energy solutions,” he added.

The British High Commissioner to Tanzania, Ms Diane Corner, said the scale of opportunities in the renewable energy sector had impressed the delegation and the challenge now was to work out how the UK could help develop the sector.
Mr John Keane of SunnyMoney, a firm that sells solar lights, added: “We have huge experience in this market and believe that we can lead the sector (with the right help from the governments) to eradicate the kerosene lamp from Africa by the end of this decade.”

The Deputy Minister for Energy and Minerals, Mr Stephen Masele, said the government was keen to improve energy security by diversifying the energy mix and was looking to find ways to do so.

Tanzania stands to benefit from investments in renewable energy, including geothermal, but such investments call for expensive and advanced technology. Drilling one geothermal three kilometres deep costs between $3 million and $5 million.

Mr Masele said the visit by the British delegation was timely and would help Tanzania explore areas of investments in renewable energy. “What the government is doing now is to undertake feasibility studies on renewable energy projects,” he added, “but when it comes to exploration, we need investors like our British friends.”

Renewable energy is environment-friendly and could help boost economic growth instead of relying on hydropower, which is sensitive to climate change.

Tanzania has potential for 650 megawatts of geothermal power, with the possibility of more large scale power generation at temperatures of up to 255 degrees Celsius (dry steam). Fifty sites suitable for geothermal development have been identified so far.

Two potential locations have also been established at Makambako in Njombe region and Singida. The British delegation left Dar es Salaam yesterday for Kenya and Ethiopia on a similar mission.

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