Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Rwanda hires UK firm to roll-out solar energy

KIGALI, RWANDA: 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 CEO, 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 percent of households are expected to be covered by 2017, up from the current 21 percent.

Ignite Power 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 percent of the overall primary energy consumption in Rwanda is from biomass, 11 percent from petroleum products and 4 percent from electricity.

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