ETHIOPIA: Drilling to begin at Aluto Langano geothermal site on April 18th

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ETHIOPIA: Drilling to begin at Aluto Langano geothermal site on April 18th© EEP

State-owned Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) has announced that drilling will begin on April 18th, 2021 for the Aluto Langano geothermal project in Ethiopia's Rift Valley. The wells will power a 70 MWe steam plant, built with World Bank funding.

Asheber Balcha, Managing Director of Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) announces the start of drilling at the Aluto Langano geothermal site, located 216 km southeast of Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. The drilling start date is set for April 18th, 2021. Asheber Balcha made the announcement during a visit to the Aluto Langano geothermal site. The EEP director was accompanied by officials from the World Bank, the project’s main financial partner.

Water will be an essential element in these geothermal drilling operations. For this reason, EEP is giving the operator on site a few days to complete the construction of the water supply facilities. The aim of the project, which starts on April 18th, 2021, is to expand the capacity of an existing geothermal power plant. The construction of this facility was completed in 1998 with a nominal capacity of 8.5 MWe and a net power generation capacity of 7.3 MWe.

This was a pilot project to test the geothermal potential of Aluto Langano. However, corrosion, hydrothermal blockages, leaks and lack of expertise of the plant’s staff led to a decline in power generation capacity several times between 1998 and 2018, followed by extensive repairs and rehabilitation work including corrosion damage. Eventually, the pilot plant was out of service for most of its life.

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 MWe from a steam plant. This installation will necessarily have to be able to resist corrosion.

Jean Marie Takouleu

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