KIGALI - Rwanda Investment Group SA (RIG SA) is poised to begin construction of a 50-100 MW methane gas power plant on Lake Kivu to help alleviate Rwanda’s dependency on expensive thermal generators.
Chief executive Fiacre Birasa said last week that RIG was three months away from completing a 3.6 megawatt (MW) pilot project which would determine the feasibility of the larger venture.
“When we have confirmed that we have good technology, we will go through to the industrial phase where we will produce between 50-100 MW,” he told Reuters, adding the project would cost $130-$280 million, depending on its size.
The landlocked central African country has agreed to share the lake’s methane resources, totalling an estimated 65 billion cubic metres, with its neighbour, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Rwanda has also signed a $325 million investment deal, the country’s largest ever, with New York-based Contour Global for another 100 MW methane facility on the lake.
Both projects should be complete by 2012 and will complement new hydropower schemes across the country which Rwanda’s energy ministry has said will cut power tariffs by a third.
RIG is owned by a consortium of institutional investors, private companies and individuals. Birasa said the company was looking to float on Rwanda’s nascent stock exchange in 2012 when its projects are better developed.
For now, Kenya Commercial Bank’s cross-listing makes it the only equity listed on the embryonic bourse although the government plans to offer a 25 percent stake in brewer BRALIRWA later this year.
The over-the-counter stock exchange has mainly attracted treasury and corporate bonds.
As well as electricity generation, Birasa said RIG, which holds $20 million in equity, was looking to use the methane to produce gas-to-liquid (GTL) fuel, fertilisers and canned gas.
The holding company also owns a controlling stake in the only cement works in Rwanda, CIMERWA. Birasa said RIG has secured most of the funding for a new $70-$80 million dry-process factory which will boost cement production to 600,000 tonnes per year from 100,000 tonnes.
The new cement factory will be partially powered by a proposed peat energy plant, he said.
“At the moment we are using heavy fuel oil which is very expensive. We are working on how to reduce the heavy fuel oil by mixing it with peat. In future we hope to make pellets and sell it to others,” he said.