Overview of Uganda’s Renewable Energy Potential

Uganda is richly endowed with abundant energy resources, which are fairly distributed throughout the country. These include hydropower, biomass, solar, geothermal, peat and fossil fuels. The energy resource potential of the country includes an estimated 2,000 MW of hydro power, 450 MW of geothermal, 1,650 MW of biomass cogeneration, 460 million tons of biomass standing stock with a sustainable annual yield of 50 million tons, an average of 5.1 kWh/m2 of solar energy, and about 250 Million tons of peat (800 MW).The overall renewable energy power generation potential is estimated to be 5,300 MW.

Biomass

Biomass is the predominant type of energy used in Uganda, accounting for 94% of the total energy consumption in the country.  Charcoal is mainly used in the urban areas while firewood, agro-residues and wood wastes are widely used in the rural areas although the sugar cane industry is currently using it to produce electricity in a cogeneration process.  The total standing biomass stock is stated with 284.1 million tons with a potential sustainable biomass supply of 45 million tons.  However, accessible sustainable wood biomass supply stands at 26 million tons.  This amount meets 59% of the total demand of 44 million tons per year.

Hydropower

Uganda has considerable hydro resource potential estimated to be over 2,000 MW with the largest being along River Nile.  A total of 59 mini hydropower sites with a potential of about 210 MW have been identified through different studies. This gives a fair picture of the small and mini hydro potential in the country. Some of the sites can be developed for isolated grids and others as energy supply to the grid.

Solar energy

The average solar radiation is 5.1 kWh/m2/day and it is the renewable energy resource on the market with the highest adoption rate in Uganda.  Existing solar data clearly indicate that the solar energy resource in Uganda is high throughout the year with a variation (max month / min month) of only about maximum 20% (from 4.5 to 5.5 W/m2), which is due to the location near the equator.  The insolation is highest in the dryer area in the north-east and very low in the mountains in the east and south-west.

Wind energy

Most wind measurements have shown an average wind speed of 3.7m/s indicating that the wind energy resource in Uganda is insufficient for large-scale electricity generation. However, the wind resource may be suitable for special applications, such as water pumping in remote areas and for small-scale electricity generation in mountainous areas. It is possible that some sites could have enough wind speeds to generate substantial amount of electricity.  Preliminary investigations in the Karamoja region (North-Eastern Uganda) and along the shores of lake Victoria have shown that there could be potential for production of electricity on a medium scale.

Geothermal energy

The exploration for geothermal resources in Uganda estimates its potential to be at 450 MW.
So far, three potential areas all situated in western Uganda, in the western branch of the East African Rift Valley have been identified for detailed exploration.  The three potential areas are Katwe-Kikorongo, Buranga and Kibiro. Based on recent assessments, they have all been ranked as potential targets for geothermal development with temperature level that vary between 150 C° and 200 C° which is sufficient for electricity generation and for direct use in industry and agriculture.  The rest of the geothermal areas of Uganda are at a preliminary level of investigation and results will soon be available as basis for their prioritization for detailed surface exploration.