The state-owned Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) announced that drilling at the Aluto Langano geothermal project in Ethiopia’s Rift Valley will begin on April 18, 2021.
The drilling activity has been going on since last year with the first phase of the process finalized after the discovery of hot spring, which is required to produce energy.
“After completing the well drilling, which proved the availability of hot water, the contractor is set to keep drilling deeper to access the intended water that will be an essential element in these geothermal drilling operations,” head of Communication, Moges Mekonnen told The Reporter.
“With the fund provided by the World Bank, the wells which were initially expected to generate 7.5 MW of electricity are now redesigned to generate 70 MW,” Moges said.
According to information obtained from EEP, Asheber Balcha, CEO of EEP and other senior officials visited the site last week. The CEO pointed out drilling at the Aluto Langano geothermal site, located 216 km southeast of Addis Ababa, will begin on April 18, 2021.
During his brief visit to the Aluto Langano geothermal site, he suggested that the main drilling work will be finalized in 18 months. The EEP director was accompanied by officials from the World Bank, the project’s main financial partner.
Underlining that water will be an essential element, EEP is giving the operator on site a few days to complete the construction of the water supply facilities. Upon embarking on the next phase of the project, EEP plans to expand the capacity of the existing geothermal power plant, which went operational in 1998 having a nominal capacity of 8.5 MW and a net power generation capacity of 7.3 MW.
Some reports, however, claim that corrosion, hydrothermal blockages, leaks and lack of expertise of the plant’s staff has led to a decline in power generation capacity several times between 1998 and 2018. This was followed by extensive repairs and rehabilitation work including corrosion damage. Eventually, the plant has been closed since 2018 due to technical issues.
As part of the Aluto Langano power plant expansion project, EEP will reuse the existing wells and drill eight new geothermal wells. The heat from the subsoil will be used to generate 70 MW from a steam plant.