The New Times (Kigali)

15 February 2014

Rwandans Save Rwf5 Billion in Use of Energy Savers

Rwandans have saved about Rwf5 billion following government's decision to promote use of energy saving bulbs seven years ago, an official has said.

Appearing before Senate on Thursday, State Minister for Energy, Emma-Francoise Isumbingabo said since 2006, close to one million energy saving bulbs have been distributed to people either for free or at a highly subsided price.

"Since last year, we adopted a new policy to use these bulbs in all public institutions like schools, hospitals, offices and other public places but we ran out of funds. It required us about Rwf3.5 billion. We have resorted to requesting every institution to find money within their budgets and buy them," she said.

Energy saving bulbs use 40 to 60 per cent less energy compared to the high pressure sodium (HPS) lamps.

Experts say a high pressure lamp consumes about 400 watts, a day, while an energy saver lamp consumes 112 watts.

Apart from saving energy, energy saving lamps are long-lasting and emit better light.

In addition, while the lifespan of high pressure lamps is 10,000 hours, the energy saver lamps are said to go up to 50,000 hours.

Energy saving bulbs have therefore led to increased reliance on hydropower and decreased use of fuel generated energy, according to the minister.

The reliance on hydropower also helped reduce the greenhouse gases emitted by fuel generators used by Energy Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA), she added.

Biogas use

During the same session, Isumbingabo also briefed Senators about the status of biogas projects in the country.

"We reduced the cost of 5 cubic metre digester from Rwf 650,000 to Rwf 556,000 and government contributes 54 per cent of the cost as a subsidy but this cost is still high for individual households," Isumbingabo told the Senate.

She, however, pointed out that there has been a fall in external funding of biogas projects with government supporting local associations that have ventured into biogas business.

Currently, there are 41 associations and cooperatives across the country that are dealing in biogas.

Last year, senatorial committees conducted a countrywide survey which found that the use of biogas was still low.

Senators react

Everiste Bizimana said reports that the majority of prisons run on biogas were questionable.

"The biogas of Nyakiriba prison crumbled yet it is listed as one of the prisons running on biogas," Bizimana said.

The Senator pointed out that there is need for a clear roadmap on how to increase biogas use.

On families using biogas, Senator Emmanuel Bajana asked the minister if cowdung from one cow can produce biogas to light a home.

Thousands of familes across the country have acquired a cow in recent years under the One-Cow-per family initiative.

It requires at least two cows to produce 40kg of cowdung and 20 liters of urine to produce biogas power.

With the ever-dwindling natural resources and the increasing oil prices, turning waste into energy is the way to go, analysts say.

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