Current Status of Renewable Energy Technologies for Electricity Generation in Rwanda and Their Estimated Potentials

Hakizimana Eustache1,*, Diego Sandoval1, Umaru Garba Wali2, Kayibanda Venant3


Renewable energy technologies producesustainable, clean energy from sources such as the sun, thewind, plants and water. Renewable energy often providesenergy in four important areas: electricity generation, airand water heating/cooling, transportation and rural(off-grid) energy services. According to the RwandaEnergy Group, in 2018, the total installed capacity ofRwanda’s power generating plants was recorded at218MW. Renewable sources of energy accounted for about113.14 MW (52.4%) of total energy consumption inRwanda. Renewable energy technologies have thepotential to strengthen the nation's energy security,improve environmental quality and contribute to a strongenergy economy. The purpose of this paper is to review thecurrent renewable energy technologies in Rwanda with anestimation of their potential; the challenges of new andexisting renewable energy technologies are also presented.The most important renewable energy technologies (i.e.,hydro, solar and biomass energy) are discussed andanalysed. Moreover, each renewable energytechnology’s description is followed by its currentpotential share, its challenges, the advantages of increasedadoption, future perspectives and disadvantages. Theresults show that 35.13% of Rwandan households areconnected to the national grid and 11.33% accessingthrough off-grid systems. These show that access toelectricity remains low, so in the rural areas, efforts are alsorequired to provide electricity to those who are not close tothe national grid. country in Central and East Africa and one of the smallestcountries on the African mainland, with an area of 10,169sq. miles (26,338 km2) and an estimated population of12,501,156 million (March 2018) [1]. Located a fewdegrees south of the equator, it borders with Burundi inthe South, Democratic Republic of Congo in the West,Tanzania in the East and Uganda in the North. Rwanda isin the African Great Lakes region and is highly elevated;its geography is dominated by mountains in the west andsavanna to the east, with numerous lakes throughout thecountry. The climate is temperate to subtropical, with tworainy seasons and two dry seasons each year. Thisgeographic location makes Rwanda the potential source ofrenewable energy. The potential especially for renewableenergy such as hydro, biomass and solar energy are hugeand play a major role in the country’s energy mix [2].Hydropower is the foremost energy resource utilized forpower generation in the country. The primary energybalance in Rwanda consists of biomass at 93.1%, fuel at 6%and electricity at 0.9% [1, 2]. In the biomass category,wood fuel consumption stands at 80.4% and charcoal at1.9%, while agricultural waste and peat occupy 10.8%.Yet, wind and geothermal energy have been evaluated forlong-term renewable technologies for Rwanda. Eachcomes with its own unique set of technologies andbenefits, and challenges are also discussed, with theircurrent potential presented here.

Energy and Environmental Engineering