Rwanda plans to generate 30 MW of geothermal energy from Karisimbi as it makes relentless efforts to bridge the huge electricity deficit and reduce costs of energy.
Rwanda needs 1000 MW by 2017 to encourage foreign investments and bolster its rapid economic growth. The country currently produces 79 MW.
Stephen Alumasa Onacha, geothermal consultant said that the pilot project is expected to start with three wells at Mt. Karisimbi’s highest peak with each costing US$ 6m.
He noted that despite being risky, geothermal may be the quickest way to increase energy levels.
The consultant is optimistic following Kenya’s experience, where two wells were dag in four months with each generating 10 MW.
“There is a lot of confidence in what we are doing and from experiences of our neighbours who have successfully generated geothermal, we believe this is a good venture,” he said
The Minister of Infrastructure, Albert Nsengiyunva, is confident that the current strategies put in place woul help achieve the government’s commitment in raising energy.
“We have started preliminary stages in geothermal extraction, the next step will be on concessional issues,” he told Business Times on Saturday, noting that Karisimbi and Gisenyi along Lake Kivu have been identified as geothermal potential areas.
Geothermal extraction means tapping the heat from the underneath into a pipe that directs it to a turbine that converts into electricity.
Rwanda’s hopes for consolidating the current achievement in development lie in its swiftness in commiting to the deadline of boosting energy to 1000MW by 2017.
Professor Roland Dieterle, Chief Executive Officer of Special Solutions based in Munich Germany believes that alternative energy sources like solar and wind would help to serve the rural areas while shedding off the demand of heavy energy to other sectors with higher demand.
“It’s the role of the government to make sure that all plans put in place are implemented,” the Minister said, adding that energy is a priority because it would spur growth in other sectors.
However, the country’s energy ambitions are being hampered by lack of expertise, contract management and supervision of the energy investments.
“We have learnt lessons from our past experiences. We need to borrow expertise from other areas and see how they can be adopted in Rwanda’s context,” the Minister added.
Meanwhile, the Minister said that despite the current delays in the production of 100MW from ContourGlobal’s methane gas project worth US$325 million and 25MW KP 1 project that is yet to be privatised, the expected output would be met by the set deadline.
Nsengiyunva noted that strengthening capacity in supervision of all energy investments through training and engaging local companies in the sector would help to bolster the commitment.
Claude Kayitenkore, Director of Energy at the Great lakes Countries Energy (EGL) an energy subsidiary of the economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries said that the recent Rusizi III hydro power joint venture project would assist Rwanda to increase investments and the economy.