Renewable Energy Potential

Renewable energy potential

Uganda is richly endowed with renewable energy resources for energy production and the provision of energy services. The total estimated potential is about 5,300 MW. These resources, however, remain largely unexploited, mainly due to the perceived technical and financial risks. Hydro and biomass are considered to have the largest potential for electricity generation. But also solar power receives increasing attention by investors. Moreover, located in the East African Rift Valley, Uganda has promising potential for the exploitation of geothermal energy. Wind speeds are generally low and wind power is thus negligible.

 

Hydro

Hydropower is the major source of electricity generation. The government developed a Hydropower Development Master Plan. Uganda has considerable potential accumulating to over 2,000 MW. Two large-scale projects with a total of 783 MW are currently implemented and planned to be completed in 2018. Other large-scale sites with a potential of more than 1,500 MW have been identified as well as 59 mini hydropower sites with a potential of 210 MW. Recently, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development permitted the construction of five small hydropower projects with a total capacity of 33.7 MW. Some of these are developed under the GET FiT program.

 

Solar

Uganda is endowed with favorable solar irradiation of 1,825 kWh/m² to 2,500 kWh/m² per year. Small solar applications are often used in rural electrification projects such as Solar Home Systems or solar water heating. Over 30,000 solar PV systems have already been installed to in rural areas.

Currently, two larger PV plants are at the planning stage. The Ugandan government intends to build a 500 MW utility-scale solar plant and awarded the implementation to Ergon Solair, a Taiwanese-US partnership. The capacity will be split up into four parks of 125 MW. The construction of the first park was planned to start in 2014 with an expected completion by October 2016. Additionally, the ERA has greenlighted the construction of a 10 MW PV plant by Dubai’s Access Power MEA, the first PV project to benefit from the Get FIT scheme.

Biomass

Biomass is abundant and diverse due to different vegetation and land use types. The total standing biomass stock is stated with 284.1 million tons with a potential sustainable biomass supply of 45 million tons. The major sources are hardwood plantations, which consist of eucalyptus (50%), pine trees (33%) and cypresses (17%). Current accessible sustainable wood biomass supply lies at 26 million tons. The theoretical potential production of agriculture residues lies between 1.186 million and 1.203 million tons annually. The only sub-sector that utilizes biomass residues for electricity production yet is the sugar industry. A small amount of coffee and rice husks is also utilized for heat production in cement and tiles manufacturing and the production of briquettes.

 

Geothermal

The geothermal resources in Uganda are still at the reconnaissance and exploration stage. The potential is estimated at 450 MW. So far, three potential areas, all situated in Western Uganda, have been identified for detailed exploration.

 

Wind

According to the Alternative Energy Resource Assessment and Utilization Study carried out between June and September 2003, the wind energy resource in Uganda is insufficient for large scale electricity generation. Measurements at two sites at Kabale and Mukono showed an average wind speed of 3.7 m/s at 20 m.

 

Key market segments

The following market segments can be regarded as promising for the application of renewable energy for electricity generation. The potential includes, but is not limited to

Hydro
Large-scale power plants, rural electrification / small, mini and micro hydro plants (community-based)

Biogas & Biomass
Grid-tied / captive power plants for industry and institutions (flower, vegetable, fruit, tea); grid-tied / waste to energy conversion; dome biogas for cooking

PV
Rural electrification / mini-grids and stand-alone systems for households, commercial users, agriculture and industry; Stand-alone / back-up or captive power systems for small businesses and industry; Grid-tied power plants

Geothermal
Exploration, grid-tied power plants