geothermal
Waita Geothermal Power Plant. Source: Toshiba ESS

East Africa stands out for its plentiful geothermal resources running from Djibouti to Malawi. While Kenya is seen as the regional leader in geothermal energy with its large-scale power plants, a new small-scale geothermal power system, Geoportable, is set to heat up market exploration.

This article first appeared in ESI Africa Issue 3-2020.
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Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions Corporation (Toshiba ESS) has a reputable geothermal system’s track record in the East Africa region through its work on the Olkaria complex in Kenya. Toyoaki Fujita, the business development executive at Toshiba ESS, briefly clarified: “We supplied KenGen with two sets of steam turbines and generators for Olkaria IV, and two sets for Olkaria I. These plants started commercial operation over 20142015, with a total capacity of 280MW.”

Now, with the introduction of Geoportable, Toshiba ESS has made it possible to construct a small-scale plant on as little as 250 square metres. This modular system generates power from geothermal resources with outputs ranging from 1MW to 20MW. Capable of being installed within a short period for early operation, the system can effectively be used for several small drilled wells.

In February 2020, Toshiba ESS announced that it would deliver its innovative smallscale geothermal power generation system for the 5MW Aluto Langano geothermal wellhead power system in central Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Electric Power company (EEP) commissioned Toshiba ESS to supply the steam turbine and generator for the plant, which is set to commence commercial operation in August 2021.

Geoportable provides more efficient use of geothermal resources, which can be used in limited space and installed on the drilled wells.

The turbine, generator and other components of Geoportable are standardised, based on an optimal skid plan that takes into account transport and on-site installation work. The equipment is assembled on a skid under rigorous quality control and shipped from the factory, which enables installation in a short time and early commercial operation.

Geoportable: holistic presence in East Africa

Fujita stressed that the pioneering smallscale geothermal system is suitable for the East Africa region to scale up use of this clean, reliable energy resource, stating that: “We see a lot of promise in what we call ‘Geoportable’. This is a small scale geothermal power generation system with advantages of short installation for early operation. It also provides more efficient use of geothermal resources, which can be used in limited space and installed on the drilled wells. We see it as an ideal solution for East African countries, which are intent on harnessing their abundant renewable energy resources.”

The company has also signed MOUs with Ethiopia, Djibouti, Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi under which the firm is bringing young people to Japan for training in geothermal technology, with the support of the Japanese government’s Africa Business Education programme, the ABE Initiative.

Further to this, Fujita advised that the company signed an MOU on a comprehensive partnership in geothermal power with EEP in September 2014.

Assembled on a skid under rigorous quality control and shipped from the factory enables installation in a short time and early commercial operation.

Based on this agreement, the firm has been supporting the utility through human resources development activities such as training EEP executives and managers.

“We are extremely proud to receive the EEP facilities order, which will be our first power plant in Ethiopia. When the Prime Minister of Ethiopia came to Japan in August 2019, he visited our Keihin Product Operations to see our manufacturing technology of geothermal power. Going forward, we will maintain ongoing initiatives in human resources development and contribute to the development of geothermal power generation in the region,” said Fujita. ESI

www.toshiba-energy.com