Rwanda exploiting ‘green’ geothermal energy sources


Rwanda’s EnergyWater and Sanitation Authority has confirmed that drilling on the southern slope of the Karisimbi volcano near Musanze will start in mid April, setting the stage to begin exploiting sustainable energy sources through heat exchangers. Fast economic growth and a progressive rollout of access to electricity into the rural areas of Rwanda has stretched the current overall capacity of about 110 MW, prompting the country to seek other energy sources on the fast track to add capacity and facilitate further growth.

A study on the geothermal potential of Rwanda was carried out some 3 years ago by Kenya’s KenGen, the only power company in the entire region with a long track record of using geothermal technology to generate significant amounts of power. The Karisimbi site was identified as one of the most suitable locations, and the drilling will last for about 6 months before a decision can be taken if a pilot power plant of 10 MW can be built.

KenGen estimated the overall geothermal potential of Rwanda as much as 700 MW, though information at hand indicates that only about half will be marked for exploitation as ‘green’ source of energy.

Currently much of Rwanda’s electricity is generated by hydro electric plants though methane gas production at Lake Kivu is expected to add significantly in coming years.

The Rwandan government has set aside some 27 million US Dollars for the initial stage of geothermal energy exploitation, inspite of budgetary issues caused by a number of development partners and donors withholding funds from the country over unfounded allegations of the country’s role in the troubles of neighbouring Congo DR. ‘Infrastructure development is crucial for our country. There are a number of projects ongoing or in final planning. The new airport is one, RwandAir is another, our national convention centre, roads, bridges, small hydro power plants and now geothermal energy production. If we can have a large percentage of geothermal electricity it will give us a much greener footprint and help our aspirations to remain an ecofriendly country. Tourism depends on this’ said a regular source in Kigali when discussing the information passed overnight.

Way to go, Land of a Thousand Hills, way to go.

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