Lake Kivu which has been nicknamed the ‘killer lake’ due to its concentrated explosive methane gases has multi-million-dollar projects aimed at extracting methane gas for different uses.
The Government of Rwanda launched mega-projects: Shema Power Lake Kivu (SPLK), GASMETH, Kibuye Power 1, and KivuWatt Project, for extracting the gas.
The methane gas in Lake Kivu is estimated to have the capacity to generate 700 MW of electricity over a period of 55 years. Rwanda wants to use the gas to develop methane-to-power projects and other uses such as fertilizer and industrial use. The main projects now underway are:
Shema Power Lake Kivu
The recently completed Shema Power Lake Kivu (SPLK) plant which is producing 37.5 megawatts, is expected to produce 56MW by 2024.
The power plant started in October 2019 in Nyamyumba Sector, Rubavu District, with a 25-year power purchase agreement with Rwanda Energy Group (REG) for a 56 MW net power output from methane gas.
It was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic and technical issues that needed fixing before connecting to the national grid, but the $400 million plant is now providing 37.5 megawatts. The SPLK plant commissioned its first gas-to-power in March with an initial 14MW, which increased to 37.5MW in October.
In 2019, Gasmeth Energy Limited, a locally registered company, committed to invest over $400 million in the construction and maintenance of a gas extraction plant, processing and compression project in Lake Kivu.
The firm signed an agreement to the effect with the government of Rwanda. It planned to finance, construct, and maintain a gas extraction, processing, and compression project on the lake.
The project located in Karongi District is expected to serve more than 300,000 households.
Kibuye Power 1
Symbion Power, the American electrical company upgraded Kibuye Power 1 which had closed due to its failure to produce the expected power output.
Symbion Power is expected to increase the production of Kibuye Power 1 from 3.6MW to 50MW.
Kibuye Power 1 is located in Karongi District.
President Paul Kagame launched the Kivu-Watt Gas Power plant located in Karongi District in May 2016. The project is expected to produce 100MW upon completion.
Works on the first phase [25MW] started in late 2008 but the project was delayed by unexpected technical hitches.
The power plant was built by American energy firm ContourGlobal, which the Rwandan government gave a 25-year concession.