As climate change continues to affect Zambia’s energy production coupled with the high demand for energy at industrial and household levels, Kalahari Geothermal Energy Company is looking to the future with optimism as their project in Bweengwa nears production level.
The company’s target to begin a pilot power generation by 2021 was derailed by the emergence of COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 which led to travel restrictions and a slow down in the world economic activity, something which in turn made operations at the site difficult, as some experts who had left the country for holidays never returned to work in time.
Fast forward to 2023, the company has made headways and is heading towards installing of the power generation plant which will initially produce 10 Megawatts and eventually scale up to 30 Megawatts.
In the meantime, the company says there is so much energy which needs to be channeled to other uses from the process which should help communities around the District and the country at large.
Recently, Kalahari Geothermal Energy Company Managing Director, Dr. Moses Banda, led a delegation from Zambia to Kenya on a mission to appreciate some of the Direct Applications of the heat energy from Geothermal Energy.
Kenya is the biggest producer of Geothermal Energy in Africa and the mission was meant to understand other uses the energy is being applied on to improve the lives of the people apart from power generation.
Speaking during the tour of Africa’s biggest rose flowers exporter to the USA and Europe, Oseria flower farm, which employs over 4, 000 workers in Naivasha, Dr. Banda said the mission was in the country to appreciate Geothermal Energy and learn how the Kalahari Geothermal project in Bweengwa of Monze in Zambia can transform the lives of people around the area and contribute to the country’s economy.
He noted that Kenya has been producing Geothermal Energy for decades and that some of their experiences and knowledge can be transferred to Zambia especially in the areas of direct applications which would not only create employment but also help create market for farm products and lead to increased GDP.
“We are here in Kenya to appreciate Geothermal Energy. In my entourage we have His Royal Highness Chief Hamusonde who is the traditional leader for the people of Bweengwa, we also have the economic advisor to the President, Monze District Administrative Officer and Monze Town Council Public Relations officer. This mission is mainly to appreciate what other uses come from the production of Geothermal Power production.
“We know from literature that you can use these energies to help improve the lives of people through direct applications but we have not seen first hand. We are happy to have his Royal Highness in our team so that he can see for himself how the project can improve the lives in his Chiefdom. We don’t want to have a project such as the Kaliba Dam project were locals were left watching water after being displaced without any major positive impact on their lives as power was shipped to the mines in the Copperbelt.
“We are sure that when the direct applications are actualized it will be the biggest single investment in Southern Province since the Kaliba Dam project and will create thousands of jobs for both locals and experts across the country,” he said.
And Geothermal Development Company Manager Direct Use, Engineer Martha Mburu, explained that there is so much potential in the direct use of Geothermal Energy.
She noted the inclusion of the local leadership as a well thought move which ensured that local people in the area of operations benefited from the project.
Eng. Mburu explained that it is important to have all stakeholders on board to avoid set backs resulting from lack of consultations as well as involvement of interest groups.
“We have ensured that all interest groups are involved in the project from inception. This makes it easier to implement. We avoid challenges which come as a result of not involving everyone. We have come to realize that when you don’t involve all stakeholders you risk being dragged backwards by interest groups such as environmentalists or indeed the local people who own most of the land were we are implementing our projects,” she said.
She also noted that her country had developed the expertise to help other African countries to get into Geothemal Energy where there is potential and that Kalahari Geothermal Energy Company and Zambia can depend on Kenya’s expertise to help develop their company.
Meanwhile, Chief Hamusonde offered to make land available for development of direct applications.
The traditional leader noted that his people stand to benefit from the project as it will not only create employment but has the potential to develop industries for farm products which he said has been going to waste due to lack of industries in the District.
The delegation visited Naivasha District were they toured flower farms which use heat energy from Geothermal to regulate temperature and ensure that the flower’s harvest period is reduced by 3 months, at most, due to the heating and cooling system.
The delegation was also taken on a tour of the Olkaria Geothermal spa, a tourist hot spot for spa activities due to its use of the Geothermal water which is believed to be therapeutic.
In Nakuru County, the delegation was taken on a tour of Africa’s first direct use geothermal steam plant in Menengai.
The plant is used as demonstration site for Geothermal Development Company to show case the potential of geothermal steam and how it can be used to change lives.
Nakuru is home to the government owned Geothermal Development Company (GDC), which is undertaking geothermal projects in Nakuru county. The Menengai project in addition to the power generation project, houses a demonstration site which showcases Direct Uses of geothermal energy.
The pilot project showcases various Direct Uses of geothermal resources such as pasteurization, aquaculture, grain dryer and greenhouse heating.
The Bweengwa plant will produce and sell two forms of usable energy namely electric energy for commercial and industrial use and thermal energy which is the secondary objective. The thermal energy will be used for agriculture production and processing as well as tourism.