Rwanda moves on solar plants installation to absorb energy deficit


Rwandan government is considering to encourage the development of renewable energy sources by focusing mainly on solar plants in a move after latest official reports indicated that the country has reached a state where the quantity of available resources was imposing limits on its national economic development, following the impact of population growth on environmental degradation.


Three years ago it was impossible for Felicite Mukantwali, a woman agricultural farmer from Ngoma, a district in the South eastern Rwanda to light her household and watch national television programmes. The family is now fortunate to have benefited from solar light through the Rural Electrification Programme, which the Rwandan government is currently undertaking by promoting the use of various resources to generate power.
Mukantwali said that she can now enjoy the benefits of having electricity in her home. These benefits include especially lighting and using other electrical appliances such as radios, television and recharging mobiles phones. “Thanks to the solar panels installed on my house, my children are performing well at school because they are able revise my course at night,” she told Xinhua.
In a country where only 22% of the population has access to electricity, and with a growing demand of energy, Rwanda authorities have embarked on a national campaign to invest in the energy sector and allow large amounts of variable renewable power to be connected to the national grid.
With a limited number of hydropower units including the biggest one at Ntaruka, in the north on the border with Uganda, which only operates at a half of its capacity because of a shortfall in rain associated with the decreased water levels of the lake and rivers since the genocide of 1994, Rwanda is aiming to install by 2015, at least 12,000 solar water-heaters individual households, according to the State Minister for Energy, Germaine Kamayirese.
In addition, at least 23,197 households from the tiny East African nation will benefit from the government initiative by end of June 2015, it said.
Currently, hydropower is the biggest renewable source in the region, but it is vulnerable to droughts, like the one currently affecting several marshland areas across the tiny East African nation
This is because Rwanda is notorious for having relied for a long period on exploiting those existing hydropower plants as the main source of energy. But with the current level of electricity production, which stands at 155 MW of electricity.
As a result, the tiny East African country continues to struggle with slow, relatively expensive and ineffective solar development, which impedes access to electricity.
As part of national efforts to boost the use of renewable energies sources, Rwanda has inaugurated the first ever large solar energy project comprising of 28,600 solar panels, in Rwamagana, a district located km in eastern Rwanda, with a capacity of 8.5 megawatts over the next 25 years.
The programme is targeting schools, rural health centres and homes villages.
Firewood remains the main source of energy in the country, particularly in rural areas, with about 93 percent of the population of this small Central African country heavily depending on this energy source.
Official statistics show that at least 80 per cent of the electricity generated in Rwanda, mainly by hydroelectric dams, is distributed in the capital city of Kigali and its vicinity, where only five per cent of the Rwandan population live.
But Mukantwali says the use of electricity generated by solar panels will also have a positive impact on the environment. “There will be less cutting down of trees which are important in any natural ecosystem,” she told Xinhua. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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