Our Perspectives

Geothermal energy, a bet on the future


The Karthala volcano, ComorosThe Karthala volcano, peaking at 2361 metres altitude, is a clean and sustainable energy reservoir, hitherto unexplored. Photo: UNDP Comoros

In the Comoros, a small southwestern island nation in the Indian Ocean, electricity is almost 100 percent from fossil fuels, and the government is struggling to meet the energy needs of the country’s 700,000 inhabitants. For example, the people in the capital Moroni have just over five hours of electricity a day. In the archipelago, the rates of access to electricity do not exceed 50 percent which inevitably impacts the economic activities of the country.

But there are solutions. Located on the island of Grande Comore (Ngazidja) is the Karthala volcano, a clean and sustainable energy reservoir, unexplored to date. This active volcano – its last eruption was 2007 – rises 2,361 metres above sea level and could shift from a pervasive threat into opportunity for development.

The Comorian Government, with our technical and financial support and that of our partners, the Government of New Zealand and African Union, is betting on using the energy of Karthala to produce electricity in the Comoros.

Throughout July 2015, the Geological Bureau of Comoros carried out surface exploration studies, with the support of New Zealand experts. The teams spent one month on the caldera of the volcano and installed electric and magnetic sensors on 80 sites to identify areas where the temperature exceeds 200 degrees Celsius. If the results of these surveys, which are expected by the end of the year, confirm the possibility of a geothermal resource, the first exploratory drilling will begin.

In the meantime, funds are being sought to drill these holes and build the future geothermal power production plant. The Comorian Government is currently implementing a strategy to mobilize technical and financial resources to cover the total project cost, estimated at US$81.3 million.

Geothermal energy in the Comoros would begin an ‘energy transition’ by increasing the share of clean energy, which is now almost zero. In addition, reducing dependence on fossil fuels and on their prices set by international markets would ensure better energy security. This model has already proved successful in countries like New Zealand, where almost 70 percent of its energy is renewable. And it represents hope for developing countries like the Comoros, which has unexplored natural resources.

Geothermal energy is a bet on the future. A bet on clean and renewable energy for the economic and industrial transformation of the country. A bet on sustainable development.

Africa Comoros Environment Energy Climate change and disaster risk reduction Leo Heileman Renewable energy

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