09 February 2015, Rwamagana – Infrastructure minister James Musoni has reiterated government’s interest in exploring clean energy, particularly solar power, to achieve its development targets.
Musoni, who unveiled a new solar photovoltaic power plant in Rwamagana District, said energy remains a salient resource for both current and future generation.
The $23.7 million utility-scale plant, the first of its kind in the region and the third in Africa after the ones in South Africa and Mauritius, was commissioned last year. It’s construction was funded by a consortium of institutions.
Developed by The Netherlands-based company, Gigawatt Global, the solar plant adds some 8.5 megawatts to the national electricity grid.
“It is important to note that solar energy (on-grid and off-grid) remains a key component of our current and future generation. There is equally a great deal of investment potential in the roll-out of off-grid solar systems country-wide,” Minister Musoni said.
He added that Rwanda targets a double digit growth of 11.5 per cent during the second Economic Development and Poverty Eradication Strategy (EDPRSII) period to 2018 and the availability and access to affordable and sustainable quality energy solutions will be key to the achievement of the above growth targets.
“Only with sustainable power shall we be able to promote private business, industrial growth, agricultural transformation, IT based service efficiency etc all critical to the achievement of the above targeted growth rate,” he said.
Photovoltaic is a method of converting solar energy into direct current electricity using semi-conducting materials that exhibit the photovoltaic effect.
A photovoltaic system employs solar panels composed of a number of solar cells to supply usable solar power.
Power generation from solar photovoltaic has long been seen as a clean sustainable energy technology which draws upon the planet’s most plentiful and widely distributed renewable energy source – the sun.
“After visiting many countries, we decided to have this plant constructed in Rwanda on grounds that there was more demand since the 110MW the country had by then, 40 per cent was diesel. Also Rwanda being a business-friendly country attracted us,” said Chaim Motzen, co-founder and managing director of Gigawatt Global.
What can 8.5mw do?
According to the Managing Director of Rwanda Energy Group, Robert Nyamvumba, 8.5MW can power a bigger part of the Eastern Province.
“The Eastern Province consumes 13MW per hour, meaning this plant which has a capacity of producing 8.5MW per hour can power a bigger part of this province,” said Nyamvumba.
The solar power plant which is now connected to the national grid will supply electricity to 15,000 households
With the new plant built on land owned by Agahozo Sharlom Youth Village, Rwanda now has 156 megawatts on the grid.
The Village leased out the land to house the solar facility, the fees from which will help pay for a portion of the Village’s charitable expenses for 25 years.
*Edwin Musoni – [email protected], Follow @EdwinMusoni