Ministry of Water & Environment and German institute sign MOU [Archives:2006/936/Local News]

April 10 2006

SANA'A, April 3 ) Minister of Water and Environment Abdul-Rahman Al-Eryani and the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for technical cooperation within the Renewable Energy for Development – Geotherm Program.

BGR conducts the Geotherm Program on behalf of Germany's Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development. The program's objective is to promote geothermal energy use in partner countries by initiating development at promising sites.

Yemen is endowed with renewable energy resources like geothermal energy which could vastly support its development process. It is located in one of the world's most active plate boundaries: the triple junction made up by the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea and the East African rift system. According to initial analyses, the Dhamar-Rada'a geothermal field yields the best evidence of promising resources for near-term exploitation.

While geothermal energy offers a cost-effective, environmentally sound alternative to base-load generation, high upfront costs and risky deep drilling to geothermal power reservoirs are major barriers to geothermal energy development. However, these obstacles can be reduced with specific know-how and technologies. With Geotherm Program support and in cooperation with the Geological Survey and Mineral Resources Board, the Yemeni ministry aims to reduce such risks.

Geothermal energy shows considerable potential to supply people with sustainable renewable energy worldwide. “Access to basic, clean energy services is essential for sustainable development and poverty eradication, providing major benefits in areas of health, literacy and equity and thereby being environmentally sound. The issue of energy choice is fundamental to the great challenge facing the world at the beginning of the 21st century and how to eliminate poverty levels without further polluting the planet. There does not have to be a trade-off between human development and the environment, which can be achieved with the help of clean sustainable energy,” says Dr. Lia Sieghart, CIM-Expert at the Yemeni ministry.

Energy and environment are essential for sustainable development, as the poor disproportionately are affected by environmental degradation and lack of access to clean affordable energy services. In order to cope with energy poverty and supply constraints, poor rural households use a combination of wood and kerosene for cooking and lighting, thereby directly and severely pressuring Yemen's natural resources through deforestation, lost vegetation cover, soil erosion, desertification and land degradation. Such conditions lead to climate change, severe loss of biodiversity and ozone layer depletion.

Geothermal energy is a proven resource for direct heat and power generation. In more than 30 countries, geothermal resources directly provide 12,000 megawatts of used heat capacity and more than 8,000 megawatts of electric power generation capacity. It meets a significant portion of electrical power demand in several developing countries.

“Good exploration surveys of targeted prospective areas have been shown to deliver high success rates for exploration drilling. Cooperation with the BGR will help overcome barriers to geothermal power development by accelerating exploration in Yemen,” Al-Eryani noted.