Nyabarongo 1 hydro power plant could start supplying electricity by June this year, officials at the Ministry of Infrastructure (Mininfra) have revealed.
This was revealed to this newspaper by State Minister for Energy and Water, Eng. Emma Françoise Isumbingabo, in an interview on Wednesday.
“The project will produce 28MW and the commercial operation date will be reached before June 2014,” she said in an interview. Construction of the power plant began in 2008.
The project’s construction cost, estimated at nearly $100 million, was partly raised through a loan from India’s Axim Bank in a $80-million credit to be repaid in 20 years. It is being executed by an Indian group, Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd, (BHEL) and local company, Angelique International Ltd.
The minister said plans to tap geothermal as an alternative source of energy are progressing well.
In July 2013, test drilling was launched at one of the three identified wells at the slopes of Mt. Karisimbi in Kabatwa Sector, Nyabihu District.
“In parallel to these activities, a series of new and comprehensive tests and scientific analyses are being done. These studies will improve our likelihood of effectively tapping a commercial resource at each prospect. We are hopeful that additional good progress on geothermal exploration will be evidenced by the result of these new activities,” Isumbingabo said.
The minister acknowledges that “geothermal development is one of the most technically complex and expensive operations worldwide” it is thus proceeding in “a careful and strategic manner.”
The Karisimbi wells are expected to produce between 150 and 300MW, with the first three wells costing the government an estimated Rwf 14 billion.