Symbion Energy which is based in America has signed a $100 million deal with Highland Group Holdings Ltd. (HGHL) which is another energy firm based in Germany, to collaborate in the extraction of Methane gas in Rwanda’s Lake Kivu.
Paul Hinks, CEO, Symbion said the two firms have planned a $370 million project to generate 106 megawatts of methane gas from Lake Kivu.
Lake Kivu contains an estimated 55 billion cubic meters of naturally occurring methane gas. Symbion power already supplied 26MW of power from Lake Kivu to the national grid.
500 MW is the estimated total power generation potential over a period of 40 years.
At the signing ceremony, Hinks said, “We are very excited about our new partnership with HGHL, they are injecting $100 million of cash equity into the Rwanda projects of Symbion Energy.”
The work will begin in November this year according to Hinks,
“This funding means we can fast track at least 22MW of power within 18 months. Approximately 8 to 10 MW of that can be accessible by mid-2018 from the existing plant we acquired in 2016 which is known as KP1. It will be rehabilitated and expanded,” Hink said.
He added: “Rwanda is one of the very few countries in Africa that properly plans ahead of time and they understand that substantial power capacity is necessary to attract investors to in turn have economic growth and provide electricity to its population.”
As far as mainland Sub-Saharan Africa is concerned, said Hink, Rwanda ranks highest in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index and “our experience there is a complete endorsement of that.”
He said that HGHL’s confidence in the country and in Symbion is evident by their want to make Rwanda their first large-scale investment in Africa.
Chairman at HGHL, Lord Irvine Laidlaw said that the project is “the most interesting and exciting project that I have undertaken, another one being a recent offshore wind farm in the North Sea, in Germany.
“We will be generating electricity by using a unique renewable resource, methane from the bottom of Lake Kivu. Delivering this will be a challenge I look forward to,” he said.
“Even more important, we are generating power for one of the fastest growing countries in Africa, so we’ll be making a major contribution to its continued growth. As with all my peers, I am proud to be assisting Rwanda,” said Laidlaw.
Claire Akamanzi, Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Development Board said the signing is a huge boost to the country’s growth agenda.
“This partnership is a really tremendous example of a co-investment that will help our country’s sustainable development and our growth agenda. We are impressed and we are committed to supporting the investors and the project to attain Rwanda’s full potential in energy,” she said.
The power projects will mitigate the risk of gases that are trapped in the deep layers of the lake escaping and rising to the surface, endangering the surrounding communities.
Symbion is working closely with the government of Rwanda and its regulatory agencies to ensure that its Lake Kivu projects deliver affordable energy in an efficient and environmentally responsible manner.