Archive for July, 2018


Djibouti …the country with surplus geothermal energy

At least Eritrea has some food security…but take the case of Djibouti! Except for the Djibouti town, the rural Djibouti is struck with poverty. I happened to travel from Djibouti to (from the coast of the Red Sea) to Lake Abhe (bordering Ethiopia) cutting across the desert. When ever our vehicle stopped, locals, mainly children, rush to the vehicle not for food but for water! This is the state of a country rich in geothermal energy. Financial Aid Institutions are more focused in supplying food, cloths and water instead of finding a more permanent solution, which is widely visible, to uplift the poverty stricken rural population. Both east and western Djibouti have abundant geothermal energy waiting to be exploited. If one (if you are a geologist) assess the potential of geothermal energy, one wonders why this energy is not tapped at all!. Djibouti lies well with in the AFAR triangle with a very high geothermal gradient and heat flow like in Iceland. What else one needs! Iceland made a half hearted attempt to develop these resources and left it undeveloped. Other countries have keen interest in occupying Djibouti for other reasons but not interested in uplifting the status of the country. Let us analyze what energy resources the country has and how it can be utilized. The geothermal systems in Djibouti comprises of boiling springs, thermal pools, fumaroles and travertine deposits. The surface temperature of the thermal waters is around 99 C. The thermal waters are channelled through series of NW-SE trending parallel extensional faults that were developed during the rifting regime. Magneto-Telluric geophysical survey around L. Asal indicates high temperature zones at about 6 km depth indicating the presence of 1200 C geothermal at this depth. Like Lake Asal, the temperature of the thermal springs in Lake Abhe varies from 84 to 98 C.

Based on exploratory bore well data, it is proposed to build 100 MWe (891 x 106 kWh) power plant at Lake Asal geothermal site by 2020 and several 1 MWe (9 x 106 kWh) power plants around Lake Abhe and Hanle geothermal sites. This amount of electricity is surplus to Djibouti considering its population. If funds are available, why 2020, within 11 months the entire project around Lake Asal can be executed!! This energy can be utilized for desalination of seawater and fresh water can be provided to the population to support their agricultural and domestic needs and make the country food secured and free the country from VWT. The unit cost of desalinated water was around US$ 0.5/m3 (when the cost of fossil fuels was ~10 US$/ton . The energy required for generating 1000 m3/d of freshwater from the sea is about 11 x 106 MWh). The cost of desalinated water through geothermal energy sources is 1.6 US$ / m3 which is far less than the desalinated water generated through any other energy source. Billions of dollars given as aid for poverty alleviation can be utilized to develop geothermal power plants at Lake Asal and Lake Abhe to provide permanent food security to the country.