Summary: Through this initiative, UNDP aims to support the Union of Comoros' energy transition and greenhouse gas emission reduction objectives in compliance with the commitments made in 2015 at COP21, within the framework of Nationally Determined Planned Contributions (INDCs), and before that, in the Itsandra Manifesto, signed in 2011 by the Government of Comoros and the United Nations System.
Challenge: The energy sector is experiencing cyclical and, above all, structural problems related to the size of the small islands that make up the country. Insularity poses major scale structural constraints for the production of electrical energy, the market is not attractive for investors.
The national energy bill is difficult to assume by the national economy. The cost price of thermal electricity produced with hydrocarbons is very high, of the order of US $ 0.8 per Kwh.
High dependence on biomass, at 66%, particularly with regard to household consumption and Ylang distilleries and hydrocarbons at 34%, has negative consequences such as deforestation.
The many attempts made over the last 20 years to overcome the problem have all failed. They have all been solutions based on diesel generators. But this choice is one of the very factors of the problem.
Solution: Following the United Nations Annual General Assembly in 2014, the Comorian authorities signed an agreement in principle with New Zealand and UNDP on the development of geothermal energy exploitation of the Karthala volcano, which culminates at 2361 meters above sea level. UNDP Comores thus ensures the follow-up of this program and its administrative as well as technical coordination with the national institutions in charge and the partners of the program.
The technical collaboration between UNDP, New Zealand and the Government of the Comoros has mobilized the necessary expertise and funding of more than $ 20 million to carry out all the studies needed to carry out the first phase of the program, and begin the second phase of exploratory drilling.
Phase II of the program is intended to confirm the resources and sites of the plant's production and plant drill holes.
The final phase will include production drilling, plant construction and interconnection to the electricity distribution network.
Co-financing from the African Union's Geothermal Risk Mitigation Facility (GRMF), combined with those from New Zealand and UNDP, led to the first phase of the program, which consisted of conducting surface studies. and exploratory. For example, joint teams of New Zealand and Comorian experts from the Geological Survey of Comoros (BGC) conducted all technical field studies. The results made it possible to define the points where exploratory drilling can be conducted, in order to determine the real production potential, as well as the investments required during the construction phase of the geothermal power plant. A first exploration mission, conducted by the New Zealand technical partner (Jacobs) and the BGC, allowed for geological and geochemical exploration. The initial findings and report of this mission indicated the presence of resources, but their precise location and depth remained to be determined and were the main objectives of the geophysical explorations that followed in July 2015.
The geophysical exploration campaign for the development of Karthala geothermal energy conducted at its summit by mixed BGC teams, and Jacobs associating GNS Science (Te Pū Ao), lasted a month. The goal of this campaign has been fully achieved. The 80 MV (magnetotelluric) sounding points were recorded as well as the 250 gravimetric measuring points, despite the hostile environment related to the difficulties of access to the measuring points, the very unfavorable climate during this period, as well as the heaviness of the supply logistics of the field teams in particular.
This surface exploration phase was used to develop the drilling plans. The treatments and the 3D modeling, realized by Jacobs associated with GNS Science (Te Pū Ao) and CGG (formerly Compagnie Générale de Géophysique-Veritas), gave the model of the structure of the subsoil with a diagram of spatial extent of the reservoir, its depth and associated structures.
The geothermal studies carried out reveal:
- the existence of a geothermal reservoir around the Karthala volcano at a depth between 1700 and 1900 m, and a heat source for geothermal energy at a depth of more than 5000 meters;
- the availability of a geothermal system around the Karthala volcano with potentially exploitable temperatures of the order of 250 to 300 ° C, as evidenced by the geothermometry of gases;
- the potential to produce between 40 and 45 Mw of electricity from the Karthala;
The environmental and social impact assessment is therefore underway to ensure that ecosystems and the environment, in general, are preserved.
With the support of UNDP and New Zealand, the Government is implementing a resource mobilization strategy, which has allowed for the gradual integration of the African Union's Geothermal Risk Mitigation Facility (GRMF / AU) into the Fund. Global Environment (GEF) in the program.
Country Provider: UNDP, New Zealand
Beneficiary Country: Union of Comoros
Supported by: GEF and African Union through the GRMF
Implementing Agency: Comoros Geological Survey (BGC)
Project status: In progress
Duration and schedule of the project: 2014-2023
Karim Ali Ahmed
Environment - Energy - Sustainable Development Program Analyst