Renewable Energy Potential

Renewable energy potential

Rwanda possesses significant renewable energy resources, and the government aims to utilise these in order to reach its 2017 target of increasing total capacity by 800%, and to diversify away from fossil fuels due to the related high cost of generation. We have outlined the physical potential of these renewable energy resources in the following section.

 

Solar

Rwanda’s daily solar irradiation ranges from 4 kWh/m² north of the city of Ruhengeri to 5.4 kWh/m² south of the capital, Kigali, in the Southern and Eastern provinces.

Source: SolarGis

 

However, conditions vary from season to season, with average daily irradiation levels in the cloudy reaching about 4.5 kWh/m². Total annual potential is estimated to be around 66.8 TWh. In February 2015, the first utility-scale solar energy project in East Africa was commissioned at the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda, providing 8.5 MW of grid-connected power to 15,000 homes. This increased total grid capacity by 6%.

 

Hydro

Rwanda has significant potential for hydropower generation, with many areas receiving ample rainfall and most streams or rivers unexploited. While current installed capacity stands at 59 MW, the government estimates untapped potential of over 300 MW, and has identified 333 possible sites for micro hydropower generation.

The Rwanda Hydropower Atlas, developed by the Rwanda Ministry of Infrastructure in 2009, found that most of the sites identified range between 50 kW and 1 MW in potential capacity. The sites are located along the major rivers flowing south from Mount Karisimbi in the north of the country, and along the Ruzizi River towards Lake Kivu in the west. Larger projects are already under development in cooperation with Rwanda’s neighbours. Furthermore, over 192 potential pico hydro sites (with potential capacity of less than 50 kW) have been identified.

Feasibility studies and assessments are being carried out on an ongoing basis, with the result that the amount of technically viable new capacity seems to increase constantly.

 

 https://www.giz.de/fachexpertise/downloads/gtz2009-en-targetmarketanalysis-hydro-rwanda.pdf Source: Rwanda’s Micro-Hydro Energy Market – Target Market Analysis (GIZ, 2009)

 

Geothermal

Potential geothermal resources have been categorised into four main prospect areas, all within the belt along Lake Kivu: Karisimbi, Kinigi, Gisenyi and Bugarama. Exploration studies have estimated the potential for commercial power generation to be in the range of 170 to 340 MW. Two preliminary drilling projects have not provided proof of this potential, but as geothermal exploration is a relatively long-term process, more studies are needed to assess and confirm potential.

 

Wind

Wind power potential was evaluated in a rapid wind energy assessment carried out in five locations in Rwanda in 2011, with the conclusion that most areas are not highly suitable for wind energy. The Eastern province showed the most promising potential; however, more feasibility studies and assessments are needed for this to be precisely determined. Another study noted that the potential of the Gisenyi area was promising both with regard to wind speed and power density, and that in areas such as Kigali, Butare, and Kamembe, there is sufficient potential for windmills or water pumping for agricultural and institutional needs.