KIGALI, Rwanda, Sept. 17, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Rwanda has contracted Ignite Power Ltd, a British company, to provide solar powered electricity to Rwandan households.
The company will start with a pilot of 1,000 households in four of Rwanda's 30 districts, including Kamonyi and Gisagara.
Francis Gatare, Rwanda Development Board (RDB)'s Chief Executive Officer, said if the pilot yields positive results, the company will be allowed to roll out between 250,000 and 1 million panels.
The two-year contract will enable energy access to remote places. The cost of the project will be determined after the pilot is completed, according to officials.
Yariv Cohen, Chairman of the Clean Access Initiative, an affiliate of Ignite Power Ltd, said the company is trying out renewable energy at large scale.
Electricity remains Rwanda's main concern, key to propelling the country into a middle income society by the year 2020.
Over 70% of households are expected to be covered by 2017, up from the current 21%.
Ignite Power Ltd will join several other solar energy projects as Rwanda seeks to explore renewable energy to serve the country's increased energy needs.
Agahozo Shalom Village has just inaugurated a $23.7m project on a 21-hectare field covered with more than 28,000 solar panels emitting 8.5MW, the largest in East Africa.
Another German-built solar plant on Mount Jali, on the outskirts of Rwanda's Capital, Kigali, has been producing up to 250KW into the national grid since 2007. There are plans to upgrade the plant to a 1MW capacity.
Rwanda Energy Group (REG), a state-owned utility company, says 85% of the overall primary energy consumption in Rwanda is from biomass, 11% from petroleum products and 4% from electricity.
Rwanda seeks to cut down dependence on biomass to 55% by 2017 and to 50% by 2020. The plan is to invest in and explore a more prudent energy mix including peat, geothermal, hydro, solar, biogas, methane gas and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).
Rwanda's installed capacity has significantly increased over the last two decades, from 25MW in 1994 to the current 115MW.
Currently, energy supply is generated from hydro power (53%), thermal (46%), and a negligible percentage from methane and solar.
The planned generation mix by 2017 is expected to comprise mainly of peat (255MW), methane (75MW), hydro (140MW) and solar (18.5 MW).
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SOURCE KT Press