Rwanda has an abundance of untapped peat deposits below its surface, another resource to add to the energy mix

A solution to Rwanda’s dire energy crisis has been met with Africa’s first peat power plant to reach COD by February 2015 reported local media KT Press.

The 15MW Gishoma peat power plant will be operated by Chinese firm Shengli Energy Group Ltd under the careful eye of Indian company ,Punj Lloyd Ltd.

The Rusizi district, Western Rwanda, is eagerly awaiting the $36 million project which will offer lower tariffs than existing hydro and thermal power. Not only does this bring competitive costs but it will contribute a further 15% to Rwanda’s current 96MW generation.

Chief Executive Officer at Rwanda Energy Group, Jean Bosco Mugiraneza told local media that "We are doing a peat master plan so that when we call investors, we can say this is the number of tons we have in this area”.

Rwanda has an abundance of untapped peat deposits below its surface, a reliable resource to be added to the current energy mix comprising of hydro, thermal and biomass. Energy sources estimate resources to be 155 million tonnes of peat covering 50 000 hectares.

The Gisagara district in the South is taking full advantage of this unutilised resource. Turkey based Hakan, an independent Power Producer is developing a peat power plant which is said to generate 80MW by 2017. A further $260 million will be injected into this project adding an additional 40MW.

With the rapid increase in urbanisation Rwanda’s total installed capacity has jumped from 25MW to 119MW in the last 20 years.

The country is heavily dependent on biomass, making up 85% of consumption followed by petroleum at 11% and electricity at 4%.

To ensure long term sustainable and reliable energy supply, a balance is needed in the energy mix. Moderate use of each resource including hydro, thermal, solar, peat and methane is the plan for the energy mix going forward.