Methane Gas in Rwanda

Category: Project generation

Methane Gas in Rwanda

Methane Gas in Rwanda is found in Lake Kivu in the Eastern African Rift Zone and the DRC.

The 2,400 lake contains high concentrations of naturally occurring methane gas (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2), with the highest concentrations at depths ranging from 270m to 500m.

The oxygenated upper layer of the lake from the surface to a depth of 60m supports the lake’s biology. The resource is shared equally between Rwanda and the DRC.


The PMP (Peat, Methane, and Petroleum) Unit, at EWSA is developing methane projects potential for Methane-to-Power Generation. Lake Kivu contains about 300 billion cubic carbon dioxide and 60 billion cubic meters of CH4.An estimated 120 to 250 million cubic meters of CH4 is generated annually in the Lake.


Rwanda wishes to utilize this resource to develop methane-to-power projects and other uses such as fertilizer and gas-to liquids projects.

The Methane in Lake Kivu is estimated to be sufficient to generate 700 MW of electricity over a period of 55 years. Rwanda’s share of the total generation potential is about 350 MW, with the rest being DRC’s share.

It has the capacity to generate 120 million to 150 million mof CH4 per annum, representing a power potential of 90 to 130 MW.


Historical Use of Lake Kivu Methane in Rwanda

Lake Kivu methane was first taped by Union chimique de Belge with a gas pilot plant at cape Rubona in 1963 to supply the Bralirwa brewery. Bralirwa brewery converted one of its boilers to use gas in place of fuel oil, and was supplied with 5,000 cubic meters/day of methane gas purified to 80%.The pilot plant was recently shut down after operating for over 40 years.


Existing Methane-to-Power Projects in Rwanda

·         KivuWatt,a subsidiary of Contour Global(USA),is developing a 100 MW plant,KP I, a 45 MW pilot plant developed by GoR,is operating about 1.5 MW since late 2007 with plan to scale-up capacity to 50MW.

·         REC (Rwanda Energy Company) is subsidiary of RIG (Rwanda Investment Group) undertaking a 3.6 MW plant project, is seeking new partners and investors to revive and scale up the project.


Available Documents

Numerous reports on Lake Kivu going to 1937 are available. Recent studies by LAHMEYEROSAE and K.Tietze, and Lake Management Prescriptions are also available.


Investment Opportunities

Opportunities in Existing Concessions:

·         Kivuwatt’s 25 MW phase I(Estimation cost $140m) is under construction with GoR Sovereign Guarantee and MIGA guarantee. The 75 MW second phase will need financing. The estimated cost is $260m and completion is planned for 2014.

·         REC is seeking partners and financing to revive the plant and scale it up to scale to 50 MW. The estimated cost is $ 106m and completion is planned for 2015.


·         Ongoing negotiations with private partners for 100 MW may be  an opportunity once they are not concluded.


Policy, Law & Regulation

·         Draft Gas Law and Regulations for methane projects is under review by Parliament.

·         A draft concession Agreement and draft PPA is under development for new projects(existing projects have PPAs with utility).


·         Management Prescriptions for the safe extraction of Lake Kivu gas resources are to be adopted.

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