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Geothermal workshop: accelerating the impact of research and development in East Africa

Geothermal power is a carbon free, sustainable and renewable energy source.
Throughout the East African Rift, the prospect of harnessing geothermal energy is huge, with the potential to provide 15,000 megawatts of power - larger than the present-day global geothermal production.

Olkaria Geothermal Power Plant, Kenya.  Image by Elspeth Robertson
This week, the University of Bristol, NERC and the Cabot Institute are hosting a two-day workshop that aims to strengthen the links between researchers and the geothermal industry.

UK universities have a long history of research into the volcanic and tectonic processes occurring in the East African Rift. The data being collected could help industry improve geothermal production and reduce the uncertainty and risk associated with geothermal development by understanding the interactions between magmatic and geothermal processes.

Setting up a GPS site at Corbetti volcano, Ethiopia in November 2012. Corbetti is a potential site for future geothermal power production. Image by Elspeth Robertson
Through talks and discussion groups, the workshop will address themes of ‘Improving Productivity’ and ‘Reducing Risk’ in geothermal research and development.  The workshop will wrap up with a detailed analysis of best practice and future actions in order to accelerate the relationship between academia and industry.

Travelling to attend this workshop are participants from the Universities of Addis Ababa, Nairobi, Edinburgh, Oxford and Bristol. Industry representatives come from the rich geothermal regions of Iceland, Ethiopia, Kenya and Cornwall with colleagues from Schlumberger and the British Geological Survey also in attendance.

Geothermal activity may be subsurface phenomena, but the impact of deep heat sources can be felt on the Earth’s surface, particularly where faults and fissures draw up geothermally heated water to form hot springs. To explore natural geothermal processes in action, workshop participants will visit England’s most famous springs in the Bristol-Bath area with a tour of the historical Roman Baths on Tuesday. The workshop rounds off on Wednesday with a day trip to Kilve in Somerset to investigate fractured reservoir rocks that are now exposed on land.


Keep an eye out for posts in the following weeks exploring the key themes discussed during the workshop. You can follow tweets during workshop using #CabotGeothermal  

This blog has been written by Elspeth Robertson, Earth Sciences, University of Bristol
Elspeth Robertson

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