THE FUTURE OF GEOTHERMAL ENERGY IN WEST AFRICA (Enhanced Geothermal Systems Solutions)

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ABSTRACT
In the last two decades, the energy situation in West Africa has received rather negative remarks in terms of output quality and environmental friendliness. The problems of in-termittent power supply and unavailability, especially in the rural areas, are on the rise as population increases and service quality drops.


This study analyses geothermal energy for the sake of basic understanding in order to shed more light on Enhanced Geothermal Systems as a preferred option, reviewing the possible challenges and viability of a project of this nature in the region. The present energy status is considered in more detail, together with reasons underlying it. More so, it reflects on the past, present and future trends to give an idea of what the actual future would look like depending on the choices we make today.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

1          INTRODUCTION

2  GEOLOGY OF WEST AFRICA
            2.1       History
            2.2       Geological materials
            2.3       Geological Development

3          GEOTHERMAL ENERGY
            3.1       Basic facts
            3.2       Basic operation of geothermal systems
                        3.2.1    Surface processes
                        3.2.2    Subsurface processes
                        3.2.3    Production of Electricity
            3.3       Drilling
            3.4       Plant Type
                        3.4.1    Flash steam plant
                        3.4.2    Dry steam power plant
            3.5       Binary cycle power plants
            3.6       Global Geothermal Energy Production

4  ENERGY SITUATION IN WEST AFRICA
            4.1       Energy demand
            4.2       Regional energy development programs
            4.3       Installed energy capacity in West Africa

5          ENHANCED GEOTHERMAL ENERGY
            5.1       Brief Introduction
            5.2       EGS Process and Model
                        5.2.1    Site preparation
                        5.2.2    Injection wells
                        5.2.3    Production wells
                        5.2.4    Production of Electricity
            5.3       Some advantages of EGS
                        5.3.1    Doubled geothermal productivity
                        5.3.2    Longer life time of geothermal wells
                        5.3.3    Location
                        5.3.4    Environmental friendliness
            5.4       Major setbacks confronting EGS as a viable alternative
            5.5       Cost
            5.6       Cost summary

6          ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS WITH EGS
            6.1       Air and water pollution
            6.2       Anthropogenic disturbance of hydrothermal features
            6.3       Water Usage
            6.4       Occupational risks

7          DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

8          REFERENCES


1    INTRODUCTION

The present energy situation in Western Africa reflects commendable efforts which have brought us to a pivot that should mark the start of a progressive energy revolution in the direction of renewable, and readily available, sustainable energy options. In spite of West Africa’s previous energy achievements, there is room to build a future of unin-terrupted power supply by creating reliable backups or even upgrading existing systems to more reliable ones. Unfortunately, only 1 out of 3 people in west Africa enjoy access to electricity and sadly, the situation is expected to worsen by 5% yearly for the next 20years (Doblas, M., et al 2002).

However, this study communicates the possibilities, challenges and feasibility of install-ing geothermal systems as reliable options for the West African green energy future. Geothermal energy is one on the least considered power alternatives due to regional geological conditions, but with technological research and development in Environ-mental Engineering, the future is possible. I see Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) as a viable option which would stand, irrespective of these limiting location setbacks, and have therefore analysed the limiting factors which have plagued the past, present and future of this energy resource in West Africa.

The aim of this study is to identify the reasons for the present energy situation in West Africa and suggest an alternative back up energy supply which seemingly can be pre-sented as the best renewable energy option for the region. There are actually more re-newable energy options which can be considered as also viable with the potentials en-dowed on the region but we fix our focus on just one, which is the EGS.


It is quite difficult to implement a study of this nature without reviewing literature from others who have made similar related researches in this light. This document was facili-tated and made possible by comparing data obtained from TAMK library, TAMK li-brary e-resources, various journals, articles and web sources. Much knowledge was also obtained from our visits to the Icelandic geothermal stations.

2  GEOLOGY OF WEST AFRICA


2.1      History

The region consists of 15 countries which together form the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) territory and occupies an area of about five million square meters (UNOWA, 2012). Detailed geological information of West Africa is quite difficult to obtain due to issues of access and availability. Only until recent times have more age long analysis been researched (Wright, J., et al 1985).

Dating back to the periods of geological time, the Achaean through the Proterozoic times specifically, the West African region gained its present topographical formations from the magmatic metamorphosis which transpired. During this period, due to underly- ing tectonic activities, orogeny belts developed within the West African craton (Liberty, 2008).


2.2      Geological materials


The West African craton represents one of the five African cratons which have existed since the Precambrian times and have been stable for over two billion years. It is com-posed of stable crystalline basement rock materials which form part of the African plate (Doblas, M., et al, 2002). The entire continent developed a structure made up of mostly metamorphic and granite rocks as is evident today as a result of the prehistoric geother-mal activities (Wright, J., et al 1985). Moreover, the West African craton also accom-modates volcanic sedimentary rocks and irons as well as minerals and well priced met-als (or gems) in its eastern and central regions (Liberty, 2012).


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