The quest to increase electricity to the national grid got a boost, Wednesday, after a Cabinet meeting gave the green light to US firm, Symbion Power LLC, to start works on its project to extract methane gas from Lake Kivu.
The firm, which plans to extract 50 megawatts from the project, had expressed interest in venturing in the production of gas from Lake Kivu.
The deal is a major boost to the country’s aspirations of having at least 565 megawatts on the grid by 2017, to address the energy inefficiencies that have been cited as a major stumbling block to development.
Speaking to The New Times yesterday, the State Minister in charge of Energy and Water, Germaine Kamayirese, said what Cabinet approved are concessions between government and the investor.
“The government approved the negotiations, and this means that the company will go ahead and apply for a license at the Rwanda Development Board prior to its activities,” Kamayirese said, adding that the company had not yet officially started activities.
The commitment by Symbion was made last year on the sidelines of the US-Africa Summit in the US attended by President Paul Kagame.
At the time, it was announced that Symbion would build, own and operate a 50-megawatt power station by constructing gas extraction facilities to lift, separate and process methane gas and then deliver it to an on-shore generating facility located at Cape of Busororo in Nyamyumba Sector, Rubavu District.
This comes shortly after the government decided to privatise energy consortiums in a bid to achieve the targets and at the same time ensure efficiency in the management of the established energy infrastructures.
Speaking to The New Times, Matthew Kavanagh, Symbion’s vice-president for business development-Africa, said after the approval, it would take only 15 months to have the 50 megawatts on the grid once they start construction.
The government seeks to generate 563 megawatts by 2017 up from the current 160 megawatts installed capacity.
Already, at least Rwf123.3 billion has been injected in the Kivuwatt Methane Gas Project that is projected to add up to 25 megawatts in the current financial year.
Last month, the project tested for the very first time flaring of the Gas extracted from the Kivu Lake a move that is supposed to add to the projected 70 megawatts in this fiscal year alone.
Kivu Lake alone is a potential energy hub for at least 700 megawatts reserves below sea levels.