Load shedding to decrease as Nyabarongo hydropower dam is finally up and running

Load shedding is expected to fall when both turbines at the long-delayed 28-megawatt Nyabarongo hydropower plant are finally turned on.
Turbines of Nyabarongo hydropower plant now working due to the increase of the water level. The plant has a capacity of 28 MW. (Timothy Kisambira)
Turbines of Nyabarongo hydropower plant now working due to the increase of the water level. The plant has a capacity of 28 MW. (Timothy Kisambira)

Load shedding is expected to fall when both turbines at the long-delayed 28-megawatt Nyabarongo hydropower plant are finally turned on.

The first turbine, in the dual-turbine plant, was successfully switched on today, adding 14 megawatts to the national grid. The second 14-megawatt turbine is to be switched in the coming days, bringing the dam’s output to 28 megawatts in total.

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Rwanda Energy Group CEO Jean-Bosco Mugiraneza (L) being taken around the power house at the Nyabarongo hydro project in Muhanga District early this month. (John Mbanda)

This follows three weeks of successful tests on the facility.

“The plant went online successfully and all the 28 megawatts will be delivered. The impact will be immediately felt; places that experienced continual load shedding will not experience the same", Louis Murego, the Resident Engineer at Nyabarongo, said in a phone interview.

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The power house on Nyabarongo River. (John Mbanda)

“This does not mean that the work is complete. This week we shall be carrying out final checks to ensure that the frequency is stabilized without disrupting the national grid.”

Murego said that synchronizing energy from Nyabarongo to the national grid will allow rehabilitation work to begin on other creaky power plants.

“Now that we have electricity from Nyabarongo, some old plants like Mukungwa hydropower plant in Musanze can be switched off for maintenance works,” he said.

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The dam at Nyabarongo River. (John Mbanda)

The Mukungwa plant, with capacity of 12 megawatts, was scheduled for maintenance in April but due to increasing demand for electricity, work at the plant had been called off.

Nyaborongo dam boosts Rwanda’s total electricity production to 138 megawatts. Rwanda has set an electricity generation target of 563 megawatts by 2017.

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