KivuWatt’s mission for Rwanda is three-fold:
- Significantly lower Rwandan electricity costs _ Rwanda has a very low level of electrification and with an under-developed hydro-electric sector its economy relies on expensive diesel fuel generators. By tapping the indigenous methane dissolved in the lake’s deep waters, the Project will play a significant role in the country’s development, raising the electrification rate to near 20%.
- Provide energy security through use of a renewable and indigenous resource
- Mitigate the environmental hazards associated with the natural release of these gases
The KivuWatt power plant on the shores of Lake Kivu is a flagship project of the Power for Africa initiative. In terms of technological innovation, the plant is the only one of its kind worldwide. KivuWatt is owned and operated by US energy corporation ContourGlobal. The plant will be inaugurated in Kibuye on Monday, May 16 in the presence of President Paul Kagame.
Lake Kivu has been known as the “killer lake” due to huge amounts of biogas trapped under a layer of heavy water containing minerals washed out of the nearby volcanos. When the gas concentration gets too high, or the lake is hit by one of the regular earthquakes in the region, the gas can be set free, posing a threat to the people living in the vicinity.
By tapping these gas resources, ContourGlobal is making Lake Kivu a safer place, while at the same time supplying its power plant on the lake shore. This is done in a unique way by means of a barge anchored 13 km off-shore. The methane gas is lifted and purified on this barge, from where it is transported to the shore through an underwater pipeline.
Another 2-3 barges are to be added to this spectacular setup by 2018/19.
The plant was financed under a private partnership including the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF) and the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO). Phase 1 has been fully operational since 31 December 2015, feeding 26 MW of urgently needed power into Rwanda’s national grid. Phase 2 will raise total power generation to 100 MW, doubling Rwanda’s energy production by 2020.
In addition to Rwanda, ContourGlobal’s African operations are focused on power generation in Togo and Senegal. The 100 MW power plant in Lomé/Togo went on stream in 2010. It represented the country’s largest infrastructure investment at the time and was awarded the African Private Power Deal of the Year. A 53 MW thermal energy facility at Cap des Biches/Senegal has been fully operational since May 2015 as the lowest-cost liquid-fuel and natural gas-fired power plant in the country. Another 32 MW will be added soon, raising total capacity to 85 MW.
ContourGlobal currently has approximately 4,000 MW of installed gross capacity in operation or under construction. Its power plants include both thermal and renewable technologies in twenty countries across four continents. More than 1,800 people are working in ContourGlobal businesses around the globe.