Ethiopia to add 1,000 MW capacity with two new geothermal power plants

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ADDIS ABABA, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- The state-owned Ethiopian Electric Power has unveiled two geothermal energy projects with a combined capacity of generating 1,000 megawatt of electricity.

The EEP signed two agreements worth 4 billion U.S. dollars on Tuesday for the purchase and implementation of the Corbetti and Tulu Moye geothermal plants, which are expected to be completed within eight years.

The two projects are regarded as the first of their kind in Ethiopia's geothermal resources development to be run by the private sector.

One of the two projects, Corbetti, is expected to sell electricity to the government at an equivalent of 0.075 U.S. dollars a kilowatt, which is said to be the lowest rate in the east African region.

Azeb Asnake, CEO of Ethiopian Electric Power, said during the signing ceremony that the Ethiopia government has identified 22 sites that are sustainable for geothermal power development across the country.

According to the Ethiopian Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, the country now has 4,300 MW of installed power generation capacity, and projects with a total capacity of over 9,000 MW are under various stages of construction. Others with over 3,000 MW in capacity are at preparatory stages.

Studies show that Ethiopia has an estimated 10,000 MW of geothermal energy potential.

Electric power generation is an important part of east African country's ambitious drive to become a lower middle income economy within in 10 years.

Its mega hydropower project, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), on the Blue Nile River, is 63 percent complete, according to the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity.

Construction of GERD project, regarded as Africa's largest dam upon completion, started in April 2011 with an estimated cost of 80 billion Ethiopian Birr (about 4.7 billion dollars).

Primarily aimed at generating electric power, the GERD project has a capacity of 6,450 MW upon completion, although Ethiopia is still working out differences over the dam with Sudan and Egypt.

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