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Rwanda, KivuWatt Methane-fired Power

Utilising natural lake-bed methane to develop 25MW of sustainable power

Rwanda KivuWatt

Context

Just 18% of Rwanda’s population have access to modern electricity, restricting the country’s potential for economic growth. Rwanda’s Lake Kivu contains a large store of highly toxic methane gas which experts agree, were it to be released, would present a significant hazard to the surrounding population. The Government of Rwanda identified Lake Kivu’s lake-bed methane as a possible source of clean, indigenous fuel to enhance the country’s limited 85MW installed power generation capacity. However, the risks and complexities inherent in extracting the methane from the lake safely presented major challenges both technically and in terms of attracting willing investors to the project.

Project

EAIF worked with ContourGlobal to coordinate international expertise to address the complex technical challenges presented by the project. KivuWatt’s barge technology floats on Lake Kivu, extracting methane from the lake bed to fuel a power plant on the lake shore. The operation returns extracted CO² to the lake to maintain the balance of the local ecosystem. EAIF also provided US$25m in senior debt to the project, leveraging the private investment needed to make KivuWatt a reality. Now operational, phase one of KivuWatt supplies 25MW of sustainable power to the Rwandan national grid.

Impact

'We have had problems with power for quite a long time. We are proud of our partnership with KivuWatt which is giving us power.’ Jacob Tumwine, Managing Director, Moriah Hill Resort

KivuWatt supplies a vital source of renewable base-load power which will benefit around 2.5 million Rwandans. The power supplied by KivuWatt is significantly cheaper than existing sources, enabling local industry and tourism to expand and facilitating wider development in the fast growing country. The project intends to deploy three additional barges, totalling over 100MW of power and more than doubling Rwanda’s installed power generation capacity. The technological advances achieved by the project will undoubtedly inform future methane gas-to-power projects elsewhere on the continent.