Govt moves to support major peat firm amid supply shortages

A view of the Gisagara peat power plant. The government is exploring avenues to bolster support for the HAKAN peat-fired power plant to enhance its energy generation capabilities.

The government is exploring avenues to bolster support for the HAKAN peat-fired power plant located in Gisagara District, Southern Province, to enhance its energy generation capabilities amidst challenges in raw material supply, according to Infrastructure Minister Jimmy Gasore.

Gasore disclosed this March 5 during a plenary session of the Chamber of Deputies that was looking into concerns highlighted in a report by the Auditor General regarding Rwanda’s electricity production and distribution.

He highlighted that the plant’s machinery has the capacity to produce 70MW, but its effectiveness is hampered by inadequate fuel (peat) supply. Currently, the plant’s capacity represents 21 percent of Rwanda’s total installed electricity generation capacity, which stands at 332.6 MW according to data from Rwanda Energy Group (REG).

However, as of 2022, the plant’s actual production was only 16.4 MW, a mere 23 percent of its expected output, as stated by lawmakers.

MP Suzanne Mukayijore emphasized the need for strategies to optimize the plant’s energy output, given its significant investment by the government. Gasore attributed the plant’s underutilization to the insufficient means of extracting and supplying peat to meet its energy demands.

The minister explained that while the plant requires 2,191 tonnes of peat per day, the investor currently extracts only 600 tonnes due to limited supply, compounded by challenges posed by climate change, particularly during the rainy season.

Gasore assured that discussions are underway between the government and the investor to improve operations, acknowledging the potential to produce up to 70 MW if the supply chain challenges are addressed.

He also mentioned the availability of sufficient peat resources in Rwanda, citing studies indicating the ample supply from the Rwabusoro Marshland in Gisagara District, Southern Province, capable of sustaining the plant’s operations for 30 years.

The plant, owned by a private investor in alignment with the government’s energy policy, requires substantial investment to boost peat extraction and meet production targets.

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Gasore proposed a phased approach to increase production, suggesting the possibility of the investor initially supplying 30 MW, with plans for gradual expansion, contingent on negotiations between the parties.

MP Theogene Munyangeyo stressed the importance of ensuring robust technical appraisals for peat energy projects to prevent future losses, considering the high costs associated with peat energy generation.

Efforts are underway to address the challenges facing the peat energy plant, with a collaborative approach involving various government entities and the investor aimed at enhancing its performance and contribution to Rwanda’s energy sector.



Emmanuel Ntirenganya

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