A safety inspector examines the new barge
US based Symbion Power has signed a PPA with REG for the 55MW methane gas project in Lake Kivu, West of Rwanda

On Tuesday, US-based energy company, Symbion Power signed a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with the Rwanda Energy Group (REG) for a 55MW methane gas project in Lake Kivu.

The agreement was signed in Kigali between Symbion Power’s CEO Paul Hinks, REG chief executive Jean-Bosco Mugiraneza, and the minister for infrastructure, James Musoni.

First barge to provide 14MW

Under the agreement, Symbion Power will commence implementation activities, including detailed design, procurement and permitting for the project located on the shores of Lake Kivu near Rubavu District.

The agreement stated that the first barge is projected to provide at least 14MW of electricity 15 months after the project reaches financial close, after which the full 50MW will be commissioned within 36 months after reaching financial close.

According to Symbion Power, Lake Kivu is a reserve for an estimated 55 billion cubic metres of methane gas deposits and the total power generation potential of this resource is estimated at more than 500MW over 40 years.

Reduced power tariffs

The Rwandan government is hoping that this deal will help reduce power tariffs and also improve the country’s energy situation.

Speaking to the New Times, Musoni said: “The deal means more affordable and stable power which will translate into faster economic development.”

Three months ago the Rwandan government increased power tariffs by 35% for low voltage users, including residential and non-residential consumers (to $0.24 per kilowatt, from $0.17 per kilowatt).

But that wasn’t the same case for industrial power consumers as their charges remained at $0.16 per kilowatt.

Rwanda to stop importing fuels

Hinks said that this deal could help Rwanda save billions of money spent on importing heavy fuels.

“Unlocking Lake Kivu’s energy potential is a game changer for Rwanda, our team is working hard to turn this resource into affordable, reliable power for Rwandan people.

“We work with governments across sub-Saharan Africa to replace expensive, imported fuel with indigenous fuel sources to produce electricity and are honoured to have the opportunity to do that here in Rwanda as a part of our commitment to President Obama’s Power Africa initiative,” he said.

He added:”We are working closely with the government of Rwanda and its regulatory agencies to ensure that the Lake Kivu project delivers affordable energy in an efficient and environmentally responsible manner.”

Mugiraneza stated that this project is a key part of Rwanda’s plan to increase generation capacity to at least 563MW by 2018.

“We have confidence that the technology is working on a large scale and will help boost our plan to generate more power,” Mugiraneza said.