Shema Power Lake Kivu (SPLK) is set to produce 15 megawatts of electricity by June this year, in its first phase of methane gas extraction from Lake Kivu, engineers have said.
Overall, the plant seeks to add 56 megawatts to the national grid after investing $400 million in methane gas extraction.
The project, which started in October 2019, is set to be finalised by December 2022.
“This is one of the projects that will significantly increase power generation,” said Laurent Butera, Branch Manager of REG in Rubavu District.
The first phase is expected to address the challenges of electricity shortage in Rubavu District, a strategic area for Rwandan businesses eyeing the DR Congo market.
Rubavu District will be the first to benefit from the methane gas plant. Currently, the district consumes between seven and 10 megawatts.
Despite its strategic importance to businesses, the district relies on power supplies from Musanze and Karongi districts.
The constructor, Shema Power Lake Kivu (SPLK), is working with Rwanda Energy Group (REG) to fast-track the project implementation.
“We are constructing the pilot phase, which will determine the subsequent phases. We extract gas from 300 to 450 metres underwater,” said Laurent Sibomana, an engineer at SPLK. “First, we separate gases from water, then different gases from methane, which is used to give power.”
Sibomana added that power produced by the gas plant will be transferred to a REG power station, where it is connected to the national grid.
At least 74 per cent of households in Rubavu are connected to electricity, but residents say there are still challenges associated with stable supply.
“Sometimes power outages cause damage to equipment like fridges. We are hopeful that those problems will be solved once we have enough electricity,” Odette Nyiramongi, a local hotelier, said.
Butera said that with a newly-built power substation in Rubavu District, these problems will soon be solved.
According to REG, 60 per cent of the households in Rwandan households were connected to electricity as of September 2020.
However, projects like methane gas extraction are expected to increase power generation in order to reach 100 per cent connectivity by the year 2024.