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Tanzania turning to coal

World Coal,

According to Thomson Reuters Foundation, Tanzania has plans to rely heavily on coal and natural gas for its future energy needs, as the country strives to develop its economy.

A growing energy deficit has been a constant source of worry for the east African nation. The lack of adequate energy supplies has been caused partly by recurring droughts that have crippled hydropower capacity. Some critics have argued that the government has failed to tap the country’s other renewable energy resources to help bridge the power gap.

The government has now launched its 2014 – 2025 Electricity Supply Industry Reform Strategy and Roadmap, under which it aims to increase electricity generation from 1583 MW to 10 800 MW in the next 10 years.

Key to the strategy is a diversification of power generation sources to include much more natural gas and to introduce coal-fired power generation to the grid. Two-thirds of the country’s projected total energy capacity will come from coal and natural gas by the end of the plan, it shows.

Currently, natural gas accounts for about one-third of Tanzania’s electricity generation.

Hydropower capacity is projected nearly to quadruple over the coming decade. However, it will make up only 19% of the mix by 2025. Wind, solar and geothermal will together generate just 500 MW, less than 5%, according to the plan.

The energy roadmap is part of the government’s strategy to raise per capita income in Tanzania from US$ 640 to at least US$ 3000.

“In order for our country to industrialise and effectively participate in the global economy, growth in the productive sector of the economy is important and will require huge investment in electricity infrastructure,” Sospeter Muhongo, Tanzania’s minister for energy and minerals, said.

The minister said the government needs finance of US$ 11.4 billion for electricity projects between 2012 and 2017, with three-quarters of the money going to power generation.

According to the plan, the government also aims to participate in the eastern Africa and southern Africa energy pools to meet present and future demands for electricity.

Government statistics show that only 24% of Tanzanians are connected to the national grid, while the demand for electricity is growing between 10 – 15%/year.

According to the 2012 census, over 70% of Tanzanians live in rural areas, but only 7% of these residents were connected to an electricity supply.

Little access to electricity coupled with low purchasing power has excluded many rural households from participating effectively in economic activities, the government said.

The desire for new energy sources is particularly strong because persistent drought has repeatedly depleted water levels in major rivers in Tanzania, plunging most of the hydropower-reliant country into power cuts that have caused huge business losses and affected government revenues.

Some analysts have suggested Tanzania could also turn to unconventional resources, such as coalbed methane (CBM).

NuEnergy Gas already has already signed joint venture agreements to develop CBM along with two Tanzanian companies.

Climate impact

Some risk analysts have warned that Tanzania is at particular risk, due to its climate and geographical location, of the effects of climate change and global warming. They point to fossil fuel use as adding to an increase in climate change and the release of greenhouse gasses.

This problem is not entirely Tanzania’s to solve, however, experts point out.

Henry Mahoo, a climate change expert from Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro, noted that the climate change affecting Tanzania and other African countries is caused primarily by the greenhouse gas emissions of industrial countries in the developed world.

“It is a global issue we are entangled (in),” Mahoo said. “When it comes to adaptation (to climate change) we are the weakest because our economies are very poor.”

Edited from various sources by Sam Dodson

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