PML moves to explore geothermal energy

Power Market Limited (PML)—single buyer responsible for buying and selling, exportation and importation of electricity in Malawi—says it is embarking on exploration of geothermal energy as one way of diversifying energy sources that Malawi critically requires.

PML Director of Marketing and Corporate Services, Villant Jana, spoke in an interview, adding more energy sources will reduce the country’s over dependence on hydro electricity as a source of energy.

Villant Jana – Geaothermal is sustainable and clean

Geothermal energy comes from the heat produced deep in the earth’s core and is a clean and renewable energy that can be harnessed for use as heat and electricity.

Jana said Malawi needed to stop solely depending on hydro electricity as climate change and other factors have rendered erratic the production of electricity through hydro.

“Malawi has over relied on hydro electricity and over time we have been affected by climate change which has resulted into perennial shortage of power, especially in the summer.

“Climate change also result in high levels of rains that damage hydro power plants. As such, PML is looking for other power generation sources that are both sustainable and renewable like geothermal,” she said.

Apparently, to enhance its geothermal exploration, PML recently undertook a study tour to Kenya which is one of the leading countries using geothermal energy in Africa alongside Ethiopia. Kenya reportedly produces 50 percent of its energy from geothermal sites.

Jana said the tour provided an insight on how Kenya developed its geothermal and how Malawi could learn the process and utilize her potential to develop and advance geothermal technology.

“Just like Kenya, Malawi is sitting in the great lift valley which gives us a leverage of having potential sites for mining and power generation.

“As PML, we have developed a working relationship with the Kenyan government backed Geothermal Development Company which has expert geologists, geochemists and engineers who are ready to assist Malawi in geothermal development,” she said.

Jana further said PML is devising a model of exploration, which once accepted by authorities, would enable a collaborative agreement with Geothermal Development Company and Kenyan government, which would facilitate skills transfer, expertise development and enhance Malawi’s knowledge of geothermal technology.

Currently, according to Jana, Malawi has 41 potential geothermal sites in Karonga, Rumphi, Nkhotakota, Machinga, Neno, Mwanza and Chikwawa.

She, however, emphasized that the process of exploration and development of geothermal technology could take Malawi the next five to ten years, diminishing hopes for quick benefits.

“But once this is eventually achieved, we should be able to speed economic development through sustainable and uninterrupted supply of power for businesses.

“PML will work with agencies under the Ministry of Energy: Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi and Electricity Generation Company of Malawi in the geothermal course,” Jana said.

Energy expert, Jeford Banda, described processes towards geothermal energy as timely, adding that, once successful, it will be a great opportunity to mitigating climate change challenges.

“Geothermal is more superior to other energy sources like hydro, solar and wind. It is non intermittent and can be used to supply the base load. The resource is always available, well known, mature and reliable.

“Malawi is endowed with geothermal resources as seen by numerous hot springs along the lift of the western side of Lake Malawi: Karonga, Rumphi, Nkhotakota, Salima, Zomba, Liwonde, Phalombe and Mulanje areas to mention,” said Banda, a former Director of Transmission for Escom.

Malawi is currently suffering power challenges brought about by the damage to some of its hydro power stations along the Shire river.

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