Gishoma Peat power plant is expected to start operating next month after floods halted operations at the plant something that led to losses of Rwf160m in salaries alone.
The Plant which was constructed by RUNH Power Corporation Ltd at a tune of $39.2 million is located in Bugarama Sector in Rusizi District.
Gishoma was expected to generate 15MW peat-to-Power and was launched in May last year but stopped operations due to flooding that has prevented machines from extracting the peat in Gishoma marshland according to Sumayile Habimana, the Acting Director of the factory.
“The plant was affected in October last year and we were not be able to operate since then. For the seven months we have been paying workers over Rwf20 million every month without working and without production. We consider this as loss although some went on to provide assistance to other extraction sites,” Habimana told Sunday Times.
He added that since the peat power was connected to the national grid, it required intervention from hydro-power to fill in the gap.
“We hope to resume operations soon during the dry season where we can extract enough to produce power until the next rains. Meanwhile we are mulling over introducing other technologies that can help us extract during rainy seasons although it requires a feasibility study that requires time to work on,” he said.
Once the plant produces enough peat, other factories such as CIMERWA say they plan to use the peat in their production.
John Bugunya, Cimerwa’s Chief Finance Officer said on Thursday that the factory wants to use peat power to reduce imports of energy such as coal they use in drying in the factory.
“We have been relying on coal from Tanzania which delays some times. We think there is enough peat in Rwanda and gas from Lake Kivu to replace that coal. Investors are looking into the feasibility of how it can be prepared and used,” he said.
Germaine Kamayirese ,the state Minister in charge of energy at the ministry of infrastructure reiterated to Sunday Times that more efforts are going to be put in extracting enough peat during the dry season so that it will enable the factory to operate during rainy seasons.
“We realised that the machines that are being used are not heavy enough to extract the peat because of a lot of water in the marshland. It requires heavy machines and good technologies to prevent water from flooding the marshland which we do not have now,” she said.
Minister Kamayirese said that the peat power generation is expected to contribute 30 per cent of all electricity generation by 2020.
“We are building another peat plant in Gisagara district so that by 2020 we have power from peat sources,” she said.
The Peat Power Plant in Gisagara District is expected to generate 80 megawatts as it is being constructed by Hakan Company at a tune of $353 million (Rwf290 billion).
Peat power production projects are among other energy production projects such as Hydropower projects which are expected to supply electricity by 2020.
“We will soon start Rusizi project three and we are mobilizing funds for its implementation in six years. Of all energy generation, peat power should contribute 30% to the national grid by 2020,” she said.
RUSIZI III, project is expected to produce 145 megawatts and is a joint partnership between Rwanda, DR Congo and Burundi while RUSUMO Hydropower plant will benefit Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania. It is expected to be completed in 2021 at a cost of $340m and generate about 26.6MW to each of the beneficiary States.
Currently, access to electricity in Rwanda is recorded at about 42.3% of the general population with 31.1% on-grid and 11.2% off-grid according to figures.