US firm to complete study on methane project in four months

The American energy company  that was last week awarded a deal to generate 50 megawatts of electricity from methane gas deposits in Lake Kivu says it will complete its feasibility study in the next four months.

The American energy company  that was last week awarded a deal to generate 50 megawatts of electricity from methane gas deposits in Lake Kivu says it will complete its feasibility study in the next four months.

Once complete, Symbion Power, the American energy developer, will start works and deliver all the 50MW within 15 months of the start of the construction phase, it says.

In an interview, Matthew Kavanagh, Symbion’s Vice President, Business Development-Africa, told The New Times that they will start with seven megawatts of electricity before rapidly scaling up to 50MW.

“The exact construction timeline will be determined shortly, but we expect to complete the first phase feasibility study within the next four months.  Symbion’s first Lake Kivu power will be available within 15 months of the start of construction,” Kavanagh said.

The government last week awarded Symbion the 50 megawatt Independent Power Production project on the sidelines of  the recently concluded US-Africa Heads of State Summit in Washington, D.C.

“We are looking forward to working on the Lake Kivu power plant and delivering reliable electricity to Rwandans,” said Kavanagh, adding that they will also determine the investment in the project after the study.

Symbion will build, own and operate a 50MW power station by constructing gas extraction facilities to lift, separate, and process Lake Kivu’s methane gas, and then deliver it to an on-shore generating facility located in the Nyamyumba area in Rubavu District.

“We plan to be a long-term partner that the Rwandan government can count on to deliver results. Symbion Power is one of the leading private sector partners in US President Barack Obama’s Power Africa initiative,” Kavanagh added.

When the deal was announced, last week, Paul Hinks, Symbion’s CEO, said: “Rwanda is an amazing investment destination.  What President Paul Kagame and his government have achieved over the past two decades represents the most incredible example of nation building in recent history.”

Hinks noted that they have worked toward investing in Rwanda for the past three years and were delighted by the new development, and hope other US companies will follow suit.

This came as the US government announced intention to triple its June 2013 Power Africa initiative’s goals to add 30,000MW to sub-Saharan Africa.

Power Africa

Power Africa is a five-year American presidential initiative announced by President Obama during his Africa tour last year, to double the number of people accessing power in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Initially, the initiative was to work with African governments, the private sector, and other partners such as the World Bank and African Development Bank in six focus countries — Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania — to add more than 10,000MW of clean, efficient electricity generation capacity.

Now, a year later, those projects are reaching beyond the six focus countries to include Rwanda, among others.

Cabinet recently approved the split of Energy Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) into two companies to run energy and water resources separately.

The fresh re-organisation, government hopes, will boost efforts aimed at realising targets to move Rwanda’s current electricity grid capacity from 110MW to 563MW by 2017.

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