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Wärtsilä power plant mitigates "killer lake" gases in Rwanda

Wärtsilä power plant mitigates "killer lake" gases in Rwanda

May 19, 2016
Energy & resource efficiency
Renewables & smart grid

The inauguration of KivuWatt, a 25 MW Smart Power Generation power plant supplied by Wärtsilä, took place in Kibuye, Rwanda on 16 May. The plant, owned by ContourGlobal, is powered by three Wärtsilä 34SG engines running on methane gas that is lifted from the depths of Lake Kivu.

"This project will significantly enhance the energy supply of the country, while improving the safety of the millions of people living on the shores of Lake Kivu," said Joseph C. Brandt, CEO of ContourGlobal.

Lake Kivu has been known as the "killer lake" due to the large amounts of methane gas trapped under a layer of heavy water washed out of the nearby volcanoes. When the gas concentration gets too high, or the lake is hit by one of the region’s regular earthquakes, the gas can be set free. This poses a threat to the people living in the vicinity.

"By tapping into these gas resources, the project makes Lake Kivu a safer place, while supplying much-needed electricity to the national grid," said Atte Palomäki, Executive Vice President, Communications & Branding, Wärtsilä Corporation.

The methane is lifted from a depth of 300 metres by a special barge anchored 13 kilometres off-shore. The gas is purified on the barge and transported to the shore through an underwater pipeline. The gas is then used in the engines of the power plant, providing low-cost renewable energy to the local community and to the country.

The Wärtsilä 34SG engine offers the highest simple cycle efficiency in the market, showing no derating at the altitude of 1500 metres. Wärtsilä’s installed capacity in Rwanda is now 46 MW, which is approximately 50 percent of the country’s available power generation capacity. In Africa, Wärtsilä’s installed base is 6500 MW in 46 countries.

Image: Wärtsilä

Source: Wärtsilä

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