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Occasional  Paper 27: Renewables in Tanzania: Status and Prospects of Biomass-based Cogeneration and Geothermal Technologies

A Publication of AFREPREN/FWD/HBF – HA Initiative on

Renewables in Eastern and Horn of Africa: Status and Prospects

 Sponsored By



Florence Gwang’ombe and Ngosi Mwihava

Executive Summary

Renewable energy technologies can play a major role in providing clean and improved energy services to the bulk of the population in Africa. Despite the benefits that renewables offer to countries in the region, the level of dissemination is still low.

At the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) held in Johannesburg in 2002, a target of 10% was proposed for the supply of energy from renewables. However, most African governments were unable to respond to this target. With limited access to data and information, most African countries concurred with the position of oil-exporting countries and other fossil fuel proponents such as the USA and rejected a binding renewable energy target.

AFREPREN/FWD, with support from HBF, initiated a study to examine the viability of the 10% renewable energy technology target proposed at Johannesburg WSSD Summit in the power sector of the Eastern and Horn of Africa region. This report contains the findings of the study undertaken in Tanzania. Two technologies are considered - Biomass-based cogeneration and Geothermal. The aim of the study was to investigate the potential contribution of both technologies to 10% of the electricity supply in Tanzania  (each technology would contribute 5%).

About 140,000 tonnes per year of sugar are produced in Tanzania and the three largest sugar factories in Tanzania cultivate more than 17,000 hectares of sugarcane. About 1,300,000 tonnes of sugarcane is processed each year, which generates about 455,000 tonnes of bagasse. In the cogeneration process, the bagasse is burnt to generate steam in high-pressure boilers. The high pressure steam is subsequently converted to electricity and exhaust steam is then used to meet the heat requirements for cane processing.

The current energy generation potential from excess bagasse in Tanzania is about 31MW per year, which is 3.5% of the current national electricity production. With the availability of advanced cogeneration technologies, sugar factories can harness the bagasse resource to go beyond meeting their own energy requirements and produce surplus electricity for sale to the national grid or directly to private consumers.

Geothermal, though not yet exploited in Tanzania is worth considering given its potential in Tanzania. It is a renewable energy resource, which is comparatively less polluting and would minimise the heavy reliance on hydro for power generation, which has been a problem during drought periods. Developing geothermal energy would therefore diversify energy resources and enhance the reliability of the electricity sub-sector. Other benefits that could accrue from geothermal energy development in Tanzania include job and enterprise creation, and savings in foreign exchange used to import fossil fuels.

Based on preliminary exploration, current estimates indicate a geothermal potential of 150 MW in Tanzania. This potential is equivalent to 17.2% of Tanzania’s current installed capacity. Once the geothermal resource is known with certainty, private investors could become key players in promoting the resource. This can be supported by the experience of Kenya where independent power producers are already participating in geothermal development. Given the fact that Kenya already has relatively large and rapidly growing geothermal industry, Tanzania can benefit from the Kenyan experience.

The study recommends a number of policy options which can accelerate the development of cogeneration and geothermal in Tanzania. Enhancing the policy, legal and regulatory framework is singled out as one of the key requirements. With inputs from all stakeholders, it is possible to achieve the proposed target of meeting 10% of Tanzania’s electricity supply from renewables.


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