Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/06/08/rwandan_solar_plant/

Rwanda fires up Africa's 'biggest' solar plant

250kW facility helps keeps the lights on

By Lester Haines

Posted in Science, 8th June 2007 14:58 GMT

Rwanda yesterday unveiled a 250-kilowatt solar plant which ups the nation's 'leccy-producing capacity to 50 megawatts, Reuters reports.

The German-backed project, said to be the largest in Africa, makes a modest contribution to the 100 megawatts the country needs "to meet soaring demand that has triggered regular blackouts". Rwanda's hydroelectric plants have struggled to cope, and many businesses get their juice from diesel generators.

Energy State Minister Albert Butare declared the solar plant "reliable and very cheap to maintain", adding: "This new installation does not only increase the generation capacity but is also one of the cleanest energy sources. It is the biggest such project in Africa. There is no comparison on record."

Rwanda's energy strategy includes rolling out more solar energy in remote rural areas, and using large methane deposits under Lake Kivu to turn on the lights. A gas-driven four megawatt pilot plant is nearly ready to roll, to be followed by a 25-megawatt facility. Some experts reckon the lake's reserves might one day provide 700 megawatts, Reuters notes. ®