The institutions which are actively involved in the geothermal development are as below:
- The Ministry of Energy is responsible for the development and management of the energy sector. In the proposed revisions of the Mines and Mineral Act, geothermal exploration would be under the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development. Currently however, the Ministry of Energy is coordinating all geothermal development activities at every level until the revision of the acts are finalized.
- ZESCO Limited is a vertically integrated power utility responsible for generation transmission, distribution, and supply of electricity in the country. The national utility owns a 2 x 120kW un-operational geothermal generation plant in Zambia; they are involved in geothermal activities because they operate the grid in which geothermal power will be transmitted.
- The Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development manage mining exploration in Zambia including exploration of geothermal nature.
- Kalahari GeoEnergy Ltd (KGE) is a private company that has been involved in geothermal research, exploration, and drilling since 2011 to estimate the number of commercially viable geothermal sites. The Government has created a conducing environment for private sector participation and has been an will continue supporting KGE in their exploration works.
*The projects/programmes supported by other partners to promote geothermal development in the East African Rift, including in Zambia can be found HERE.
Currently, there is only one small un-operational geothermal generation plant in Zambia (2 x 120kW), which was developed under an Italian Government initiative in 1987 and is located at the Kapisya hot springs. Recent estimates indicate that the plant can be upgraded to produce 2MW of electricity. Efforts are underway by ZESCO to revive and expand the plant, pending the construction of a 22 km access road by Government.
The Government of the Republic of Zambia (GRZ) in 2019 developed the Scaling Up Renewable Energy Programs (SREP) and the Investment Plan (IP) and prioritized Geothermal Development as one of the three components for the SREP-Zambia IP. The objective of the geothermal programme was to (1) Promote use of geothermal resource for electricity generation and agro-industrial activities and (2) Improve affordability of geothermal electricity generation by mitigating investment risk. The Geothermal programme was estimated at $45 million (USD) and would include the development of a policy enabling framework as well as facilitate the development of at least 15 MW of utility scale-geothermal power. The GRZ is still looking for funds to develop the programme (refer to the Zambia SREP IP, 2019 at www.moe.gov.zm ).
Private sector geothermal projects
Kalahari GeoEnergy Ltd is currently working on the feasibility study of a 10-20MW power plant, as part of the first phase to demonstrate commercial feasibility of geothermal power. Based on the exploration programme by Kalahari GeoEnergy, it has been estimated that the Kafue trough, which stretches over an area of 14,000 km2, may have enough resources for as much as 1,000MW (http://www.thinkgeoenergy.com).
Legal and Regulatory Framework
The Energy Regulations Act 2019 provide for the licensing of enterprises in the energy sector. However, Zambia does not have a dedicated legal and regulatory framework for geothermal development yet.
According to reconnaissance studies undertaken in the 1970s, Zambia has about 80 hot and mineralized springs. Currently, only three geothermal sites (i.e. Bweengwa River, Kapisya and Chinyunyu, hotsprings) have been identified as potential sites for geothermal resources. These sites possess the critical characteristics of sufficient heat, high volume of fluid and rock porosity for resource exploitation. However, the geothermal resource in Zambia still requires further elaboration and quantification.