US ENERGY developer ContourGlobal has launched its 25 MW KivuWatt power plant in Kibuye, Rwanda, which uses methane vented from under Lake Kivu.
The lake contains high concentrations of methane and CO2, which build up anaerobically and are trapped under the waters. When volcanic activity or earthquakes occur in the region, it risks leading to a catastrophic release of gas, which could cause asphyxiation to those living in the Lake Kivu basin.
The US$200m KivuWatt project is a gas/water plant which uses the methane found under the waters to generate low-carbon electricity, and reduces the amount of methane in the lake, thereby reducing the risk of catastrophic release.
The process involves a gas extraction facility 13 km off-shore to bring gas-laden waters from a pressure of 35 bar to 2 bar. Using a gas separator, gas bubbles are extracted from the water. The gas mixture is washed, producing clean methane gas. The methane is transported to the onshore power plant where it is used in combustion engines to generate electricity to be supplied to Rwanda’s energy grid.
Joseph Brandt, president and CEO of ContourGlobal, said: “In 2008 we entered into a partnership with the government of Rwanda to transform the menace of Lake Kivu’s unique gas deposits into the source of something good for the people of Rwanda.”
ContourGlobal says the next phase of the project will be three additional offshore extraction facilities to the configuration on the lake to generate an additional 75 MW at 25 MW each between 2018 and 2019. The company also hopes to gain an additional 9 MW from the existing plant through efficiency measures by the end of the year.
The KivuWatt project sets Rwanda on the road to doubling its energy production by 2020. Lake Kivu is shared with the Democratic Republic of Congo, the government of which has said it also wishes to exploit the lake’s resources to support up to 700 MW of production.
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