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Rwanda set to capitalise on methane gas resources in order to boost the country’s power generation capacity

In East Africa, the Rwandan government has revised the country’s power generation target to 563MW from the current 160MW by 2017/18. It is believed that the country’s methane gas resources will contribute towards achieving this goal.

Managing director of Energy Development Corporation Limited (EDCL) Emmanuel Kamanzi told the East African Business Week that the exploitation of methane gas in Lake Kivu, which is estimated to have 700MW of generation capacity, is top priority to help government meet its 2018 target.

Gas to power

Kamanzi explained that the strategy of the Lake Kivu project is to attract private developers to invest in methane- to-power projects as Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and through a public private partnership (PPP) framework.

According to Kamanzi, Kibuye Power 1 is an existing pilot project which has been in operation since 2008 with an installed generation capacity of 3.6MW.

Kamanzi said: “After operating below capacity (1.2MW) for several years due to technological challenges, the operators have recently optimised the output to 3MW and this is a major achievement in terms of process efficiency to benefit and to future developments.”

He added that Kivuwatt Rwanda, a subsidiary of Contour Global, a US-based firm is developing a 25MW project in Karongi District.

The Karongi District project is expected to come online in June 2015.

Cross-border connections 

Rwanda is an active participant in the East African Power Pool which is currently constructing transmission lines interconnecting neighbouring countries such as Rwanda-DRC, Rwanda- Burundi, Rwanda-Uganda to facilitate cross-border power import and export.

Kamanzi said that late last year Kenya Power and Lighting Company Limited and Rwanda Energy Group Limited signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for Rwanda to import up to 100MW of power from Kenya by 2018.

Kamanzi told the East African Business News: “The imported power will […] gradually increase in-line with the increasing electricity demand in Rwanda and the availability of electricity in Kenya. […] Therefore, [it is] expected that by October 2015, 30MW will start flowing from Kenya through the Uganda network to Rwanda.”

He added: “Rwanda will be able to import 60MW, 80MW, 100MW in 2016, 2017, and 2018 respectively from Kenya”.

In addition, Kamanzi added that the Rwanda Energy Group has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ethiopia Electricity Company Limited as well as PPA agreements related to the importation of up to 400MW from Ethiopia which will commence soon.

Kamanzi explained: “This importation is expected to start after 2018 when the 500kV Direct Current transmission line between Kenya and Ethiopia and the construction of the 6,000MW  Great Renaissance hydro power plant are completed.”

He concluded: “The imported power from Ethiopia will pass through Kenya and Uganda using the interconnections under development. GDC and ZESCO have offered internship tours to staff on specialised skills. We shall continue to build such strategic networks.”