Nation Looking For Full-Fledged Social and Economic Growth through Sustainable Energy Supply
Energy for a robust and firm foundation, energy for speedy and sustainable growth, and energy is highly essential for a full-fledged social and economic development of any given nation. The more energy supply is ensured, the more the pace of development of any sort is accelerated and without which humans could only lead a very primitive style of life. Thus, the availability of a viable source of energy is above all a necessity requisite for developing countries or else their economy would be impaired or would remain stagnant and may be also pushed back. Taking this common understanding in to account, varied infrastructures have been put in place in Eritrea with a set goal of ensuring electric supply not only in major cities but also in a number of villages which have never been beneficiaries of such a service. Not only energy for household uses but also to ensure that there is a viable and effective transportation system throughout the country as well as to meet transnational and international transportation demands. It is needless to mention the endeavors that have been exerted to supply sufficient amount of energy to different industrial plants and other service rendering institutions that continued to flourish to date. Eritrea’s basic and major sources of energy can be categorized as primary, secondary and end-use energy. But, primary and secondary energy are the country’s main sources of energy and of which biomass generated energy covers 79%, the 21% is from oil and renewable source of energy covers just below 1%. Bearing in mind that the biomass and oil generated sources of energy could not be sustainable due to various factors that would negatively impact their availability, extensive research activities were conducted to see how the county’s potential in renewable energy is.
Before looking into the country’s potentials of renewable energy, it is important to understand that huge amount of energy has been consumed in the process of transformation from one form of energy into another. Thus, about 88% of the total energy is effectively utilized and of this more than 80% is consumed in households. Transportation consumes about 15% and around 4% have been consumed by different service giving institutions and only 2% have been consumed in industries. However, it does not mean there have been sufficient energy supplies for all sorts of needs. It is also impractical to use agricultural residues for there is a growing demand of livestock feed.
Taking such deficits into account, Mr. Tesfay Ghebrehiwet, head of rural electrification unit in the Ministry of Energy and Mines said that, since the wake of independence, the Government has been making huge investment in the energy sector. Such investments were focusing in maximizing the capacity of energy supply and ensuring sufficient and balanced distribution of fuel oil.
According to researches, Eritrea has a huge potential of renewable energy. Southern Red Sea region is highly known for its potentials of generating wind energy and if not equally there is also such a potential in some areas of the highlands. The potential of mechanical wind energy is almost everywhere in the country. So far, Mr. Tesfay said that there is collective wind electricity potential in about 300 sites throughout the country and most of which are in the Southern Red Sea region. And in studying such a potential, about 25 meteorological stations have been installed in different areas of the country. A five-year accumulated data obtained from each respective area was very helpful in identifying the potentials of wind energy in a broader sense. Based on the information that has been accumulated, there is a high capability to make utmost use of the wind energy potentials around Dekemhare and Ghizgza for the electric line passes along the same spot where there is good wind penetration. In the Southern Red Sea region, huge wind energy potential lies on areas that stretch from Borasole to the areas that borders with Djibouti and is expected to supply sufficient amount of energy to the port city of Assab and generally to Denkalia areas. As pilot projects wind turbines that could generate 750 kilowatt have been erected in Assab. However, other wind turbines that were erected in six villages of the region have been out of use for being small and unable to resist the very high wind penetration.
With the introduction of electricity power supply a number of villages have been urbanized in a very speedy manner and thereby enabled beneficiaries lead a very improved lifestyle. This urbanization in turn increases demand of energy. The more the rural areas are advanced the more their demand of electricity becomes. Government’s effort in the process of ensuring electricity power supply in the rural areas of the country is indeed very encouraging. “Electric power supply which was once confined to few cities and for special purposes alone have now been expanded to the remote areas of the country,” Mr. Tesfay said. “Necessary preparations have also been finalized to introduce electric supply in around 100 villages in a near future.”
In the pre-independence period, electricity power supply stations in the country used to generate only 30 megawatt of energy. This has been, in 2003, expanded to 134 megawatt with the construction of Hirgio energy supply station. With the increasing trend of urbanization, the department of energy has been broadening its partnership with all sectors for such developments calls for a chain of energy demands such as for transportation, agricultural and industrial machineries, and other economic and day-to-day social activities. Hence, owing to the concerted actions that have been exerted in the post-independence period and following the completion of electrification activities in about 100 villages, a total of 300 villages would become beneficiaries of electric supply.
Varied possibilities of generating renewable energy have been studied so as to meet the growing demands. Hence, pre-feasibility study for the country’s geothermal energy potentials has been carried out and the prospects are very promising. In this regard, Mr. Tesfay said that there are plans to make evaluation of such a potential through practical tests. “We are now looking ahead to make the feasibility study so as to make use of the geothermal potential as well,” he reiterated.
According to Mr. Tesfay each of the identified spots in Dekemeare and Ghizgza has a capacity of generating 30 kilowatt of energy. The potentials in other rural areas of the southern regions would also sustainably meet electricity demands of the villages around there. As the renewable energy has been identified as an alternative to the very demanding biomass and oil generated energy, concerted efforts are directed towards shifting to renewable source of energy
Bearing in mind that judicious utilization of energy prevents every beneficiary and the nation at large from unnecessary expenses, the department of energy has been working with partners on introducing mechanisms for better production with less energy supply. Mr. Tesfay is of the idea that gas supply should be maximized so as to meet the demands and also to make due contributions in environmental protection and to decrease deforestation. Solar and wind energy supply could also play a very essential role not only in environmental protection but also in efficient and economic appliance.
Power generation of the country would be definitely multiplied in many folds for plans have been charted out to increasing power generation capacity of Hirgigo plant, to increase gas supply and open new distribution spots in Keren, Dekemhare, Barentu and Medndefera, besides making maximum use of renewable sources in general and most notably wind energy. In the fourth phase of electrification endeavors around 120 villages that are situated in the environs of Debarwa, Aretay, Gheleb in the Southern region and environs of Aderde and Akordet in the Gash-Barka region would become beneficiaries of electricity power services. The program would also be sustainably enhanced in a speedy manner.