A safety inspector examines the new barge
KivuWatt methane plant. Inspection. Pic Credit Technology Review
A safety inspector examines the new barge for the KivuWatt methane plant. Pic credit: Technology Review

In East Africa, unexpected technical hitches are delaying the expected 25MW generation of the first phase at the KivuWatt methane plant in Rwanda.

The KivuWatt methane plant, situated in the Western Province district of Karongi, initially scheduled for completion in 2012, has experienced continuing delays.

The latest delay has moved the deadline from July this year to a new deadline in October 2015, local media The New Times reported.

Works on the first phase started in late 2008 but seven years later, the KivuWatt methane plant is yet to produce any electricity.

25-year gas agreement concession

ContourGlobal, a US energy investment firm, has a 25-year concession to produce 100MW from the methane-rich waters of Lake Kivu.

The Gas Concession Agreement is with the Government of Rwanda and the 25-year Power Purchase Agreement is with the Rwanda Energy Group (REG). CounterGlobal has invested up to $198 million to reach the first pilot phase and will have full authority to sell the electricity yield from the extraction.

KivuWatt methane plant

Last Friday, The New Times gained access to the project to substantiate reports that a critical part of the project’s machinery had been severely damaged during installation, hence the missed July-deadline.

The local media stated that, from a distance, the KivuWatt methane plant resembles a floating island in the middle of Lake Kivu. Its machinery, which is a complicated assemblage of heavy pipes and metal, are installed on a wide barge.

According to engineers at KivuWatt methane plant, the barge is anchored in one place by strong ropes, which are fastened in concrete slabs built at the bottom of the lake. The barge is a permanent fixture.

Methane gas capacity

Lake Kivu holds an estimated 60 billion cubic meters of dissolved methane gas, and some 300 billion cubic meters of carbon dioxide.

The barge was installed in May this year to start extraction of the methane gas. Phase one is expected to generate 25MW as from October, with three more phases to yield 100MW in total.

The government expects the KivuWatt methane plant to contribute to the national grid, and has increased target for the power capacity produced to 563MW by 2018.

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