Rwanda to switch on peat-fired power plant

To deal with a biting power deficit, Rwanda is set to start using peat power from Africa's first peat fired plant, by February 2015, KT Press reported.

A Chinese company, Shengli Energy Group Ltd, under supervision of an Indian firm, Punj Lloyd Ltd, is operating the Gishoma peat power plant in Rusizi district, Western Rwanda.

The $36 million project will produce cheaper electricity compared to hydro or thermal power.

The 15 MW power plant will also boost Rwanda's current 96 MW national grid capacity by 15 percent.

An earlier study by Ekono Inc., an American firm, established that Rwanda has reserves estimated at 155 million tons of dry peat spread over 50,000 hectares.

Turkey-based Hakan, an Independent Power Producer, is also building another peat power plant in Gisagara district, Southern Rwanda, meant to generate 80 MW by 2017.

The plant plans to add more 40 MW to its capacity, with a $260 million investment.

By 2017, Rwanda's peat power production is expected to be 145 MW, accounting for 27 percent of the total national grid capacity.

Rwanda's electricity production has grown from 5 percent in 2005 to 21 percent. The government says it intends to produce 70 percent by 2017.

Over the last twenty years, the country has seen a sharp increase in its installed capacity, from 25 MW in 1994 to 119 MW today.

To date, biomass — used in the form of firewood, charcoal and agricultural residues for cooking purposes — remains Rwanda's main source of energy, accounting for 85 percent of total energy consumed. Petroleum products contribute 11 percent while electricity consumption stands at 4 percent.

To slash overdependence on biomass to 55 percent by 2017 and 50 percent by 2020, the country eyes a harmonious energy mix, mainly of peat, hydro, solar and methane.

Rwanda's electricity amalgam is currently made of mainly hydro (53 percent) and thermal (46 percent), with solar and methane making up just a negligible portion.

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