By Edwin Musoni
RUBAVU – Finally, Rwanda’s dream of generating electricity out of methane gas has been realised with the first 1.8megawatts channelled to the national grid. So far, the power extracted from Lake Kivu can supply the whole of Rubavu District or more.
“This is a memorable day in the history of this country; we have finally succeeded in extracting methane gas that has been in this lake for thousands of years and today Rwandans are consuming electricity generated from it,” State Minister for Energy Eng. Albert Butare said excitedly at the mini-launch of the pilot methane gas plant in Rubavu district.
He revealed that the Government was in the process of signing several agreements with foreign and local investors to extract the gas.
Butare also said the history behind the idea of extracting the gas, saying that it was championed by President Paul Kagame in 2002 when he instructed the extraction of the ‘very valuable and useful’ gas.
He explained that several procedures were followed until June last year when the final operation of setting up the extraction plant kicked off.
“That is when we signed the agreement with an Israeli company that started working on the progress of the project. On May 15 this year, we successfully extracted the first gas from the lake,” he explained.
Butare added that in May, the extracted gas was not very clean by international standards because of the machines that were being used, “but still, it was a credit worthy celebration.”
He added that some people thought Rwanda’s methane gas extraction would affect the lake “but we did it and maintained the safety of the lake as well.”
Related to the above, Butare revealed that there is an American investor who has finalised getting the necessary requirements, including environmental impact assessment, allowing him to extract about 100 megawatts.
Meanwhile, government has established a group of experts to monitor the generation of gas in the lake. According to Butare, the same team will monitor the different companies that will be involved in extracting the gas.
The Director General of Electrogaz, a public utility for production, transmission and distribution of Water and Electricity in Rwanda, John Mirenge, confirmed that the electricity generated from Methane gas had been channelled to the company’s electricity network.
“Very important to note is that electricity costs will automatically fall after a fully fledged project comes to life,” Mirenge said.