Rwanda to unveil first utility-scale solar project in the region

Claudia Gasana* Rwanda-to-unveil-first-utility-scale-solar-project-in-the-regionRwanda is set to unveil the first utility-scale solar PV power plant in the region early August 2014. The project, with a capacity of 8.5 MW has commenced its testing phase of up to 20 percent of its total capacity. Generation and provision of electricity to all Rwandans is a priority for the Government of Rwanda. At present, less than one in five households in Rwanda have access to electricity, and this will increase the country’s production capacity by up to 8 percent. The Norwegian company Scatec Solar is the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Company responsible for building the power plant, and Remote Partners is the local management and support firm. The project has been funded by Norfund (Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries) and KLP The Dutch company Gigwatt Global is the developer of the project. Once the plant is up and runnig, Scatec Solar will operate and maintain the plant which will feed electricity directly into the national grid.  The price is lower than for electricity generated by diesel oil. The Government is encouraging private sector involvement and private-public partnerships as part of its development policy and providing energy for all as an important goal in the fight against poverty. A report commissioned by United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) on the state of energy and access and security in 14 states of the Eastern Africa Region states more gaps in access to electricity. According to the report, the share of the population with access to electricity in Eastern Africa is among the lowest globally, with countries like South Sudan having a mere 1 percent of the population accessing energy, Burundi at 2 percent, DRC at 9 percent and Uganda at 12 percent. In Rwanda, 85 percent of the overall primary energy consumption is from biomass, 11 percent is from petroleum products and a meagre 4 percent is from electricity. Government plans to have at least 70 per cent of the households in the country access electricity by 2017. *rwandaexpress]]>

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