Local firm to construct Rwf6b hydro power plant
A local entrepreneur, Gregory Tayi, has embarked on the construction of another mini-hydro-electric plant estimated to cost Rwf 6 billion ($10m).
Upon completion, the plant is expected to generate two megawatts, according to the proprietor.
In an exclusive interview, Tayi told The New Times that his firm, Renewable Energy Promotion (REPRO) Limited, has designed a hydro-power project scheduled to be complete within two years.
“We want to construct another hydropower plant scheduled to cost US10 million dollars, which will be producing two megawatts; we are just waiting for the government to allocate us the site…otherwise we are more than ready,” said Tayi.
This comes in the wake of the firm’s successful completion of a mini-hydro firm that was launched in 2010 and currently produces 110 kilowatts, according to the proprietor, enough to serve about 500 rural households.
The government initiated a rural energy promotion programme where it identifies sites to be developed by individual or private firms, under the public-private partnerships.
This is considered to be one of the other ways to meet the energy demands and reduce energy costs, and profit making initiatives in Africa.
“As of now, money is not the issue; the issue now is to get a site,” he added.
Tayi is the only person who managed to complete his first hydro project out of the six people who were given sites by the government, and received a grant from the German nongovernmental organization, GIZ in 2008.
The mini-plant that is based in Murunda, Rutsiro District, recently received an international award – Century International Gold Quality Era Award – from a Geneva-based international firm, Business Initiative Direction, as the most outstanding hydro plant in 47 selected countries worldwide.
The plant is currently connected to the national grid, after signing a 10-year Power Purchasing Agreement with the national utility body, EWSA, in which Tayi is paid $6,000 monthly.
However, Gerard Mukubu, the director of advocacy in Private Sector Federation, said that they are willing to advocate for all those seeking to invest in the energy sector.
“We are not aware of his project, but we have forums with various government institutions where we try to seek solutions for such issues. Let him come to us…it’s our responsibility and we will help him realize his dream,” Mukubu noted, in a telephone interview.
Government targets at least 1,000MW on the national grid by 2017, with at least 50 per cent of Rwandans having access to electricity.
Among the mega power plants under construction is Rusumo Hydropower dam which is scheduled to produce 80 megawatts at a tune of approx. $300 million.
The project will be shared between Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi.
The government also embarked on drilling for geothermal, targeting 310MW in the next seven years, with an estimated cost of $935 million.
The geothermal sources have been identified between Gisenyi and Karisimbi Volcano and Bugarama.
Experts estimate the geothermal potential along the East African Rift Valley in excess of 15,000 MW, but the huge potential has remained largely untapped except in Kenya and Ethiopia.
Another area with abundant energy potential is methane gas in Lake Kivu.
Recently, the Kivuwatt project, which has embarked on extraction of the rare gas Lake Kivu, received a World Bank guarantee of $140 million.
Another $325 million gas-to-power project owned by Contour Global, a US based oil and gas firm, is expected to generate 100MW if completed.
According to the information on the RURA website, the first phase targets to deliver to the national grid 25 MW by end of this year followed by 75 MW in the second phase.
RURA is Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency.
Other private firms that have ventured in power generation include the Rwanda Energy Company (REC), a subsidiary of Rwanda Investment Group (RIG) which acquired a gas concession agreement to develop a gas fired power plant in Rwanda.
This REC pilot project is scheduled to produce about 3.6 MW in the first phase and later 50 MW in a joint venture with government.
The country is also banking on the Rusizi III hydro power project to increase national energy production and promote investment.
Contact email: bosco.asiimwe[at]newtimes.co.rw