Two companies; Symbion Energy and Highland Group Holdings Ltd. (HGHL) on Thursday signed an agreement that will see the latter co-invest $100 million towards the extraction of methane gas from Lake Kivu.
According to a statement, the agreement will raise the $370m capital required to extract gas that will generate up to 106 megawatts of electricity from the lake.
This deal, according to the statement, was signed between Symbion Energy CEO Paul Hinks and Lord Irvine Laidlaw, the Chairman at HGHL.
Lake Kivu contains an estimated 55 billion cubic meters of naturally occurring methane gas.
The total power generation potential of the resource has been conservatively estimated at more than 500 MW over a 40-year period.
Only 25 Megawatts is produced today.
Speaking at the signing ceremony in New York City 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 earnest in November 2017 and this funding means we can fast track at least 22MW of power within 18 months."
Roughly, he said, 8 to 10 MW of that energy can be available by mid 2018 from the existing plant acquired in 2016 which is known as KP1.
"It will be rehabilitated and expanded."
Hinks added that 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 create economic growth and deliver electricity to its population.
"The demand for power in Rwanda is suppressed by the lack of surplus capacity and these two projects will facilitate continued growth," he said.
Lord Laidlaw, Chairman at HGHL, said "This is perhaps the most interesting and exciting project that I have undertaken, inclusive of our recent offshore wind farms in the North Sea, in Germany."
He continued, "We will be producing electricity by utilizing a unique renewable resource, methane from the bottom of Lake Kivu. Delivering this will be a challenge I look forward to."
"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 colleagues I am proud to be assisting Rwanda," said Laidlaw.
The CEO Rwanda Development Board and a Member of President Kagame's cabinet, Clare Akamanzi commended the development sayung that this will fuel the country's sustainable development.
"We are impressed and we are committed to support the investors and the project to attain Rwanda's full potential in the energy sector," she said.
USAID's Acting Assistant Administrator for Africa Cheryl L. Anderson joined Symbion at the signing, underscoring the continued partnership between Power Africa and Symbion and the importance of American companies in accelerating energy sector investment to bring power to millions of Rwandan households and businesses.
These two power projects will reduce the risk of gases that are trapped in the deep layers of the lake escaping and rising to the surface, endangering the surrounding communities, the statement states.
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.