Solar Photovoltaic Systems as an Alternative Source of Energy in Rwanda: Kigali City Case Study

N. Lujara (Rwanda) and O. Kaunde (Tanzania)


Solar PVs, Kigali, Commercial establishments, Public service establishments, Households.


Likewise, Table 1 shows the energy usage for lighting only in the areas of Kigali city. In total, electricity represents 37.2%, Kerosene lamps represent 30.3%, kerosene lamp represents 26.4%, candle represents 5.3 % and biomass represents 0.8 %. The demand for electricity in Kiga1i city is increasing while the supply which is mainly from hydro power stations is decreasing due to decreasing water level in the lakes. The widening gap between supply and demand has resulted in regular power cuts, which in turn affects the businesses. To bridge the gap, stand-by systems for power supply, notably Engine generators and Solar PV systems (Solar PVs) are employed albeit very few installations do exist to date. This paper presents the findings of the survey regarding the loads, duration and frequency of power cuts, attitudes of the people regarding Solar PVs, people’s willingness to buy and install Solar PVs. A comparison of costs between an Engine generator and Solar PVs has been done, and the results show that the latter is more economical than the former. Low awareness among the population about the capabilities of Solar PVs has been identified as being a major factor hindering the uptake of the technology. Some recommendations on strategies for enhancing adaptation and use of Solar PVs have been proposed. On the other hand, electricity is the most employed energy source for industrial sector, institutions, public and private services, but it is relatively expensive. Furthermore a great part of electricity used in Kigali is generated by the hydropower plants of Mukungwa and Ntaruka which draws their waters from lakes Bulera and Ruhondo. The falling level of water in these two lakes has resulted in reduction of power being generated. From 2001 to 2005 water level in Bulera fell about 1m while Ruhondo lake fell by about 1.15 m. In Rwanda the installed generation capacity from both hydro and thermal generation facilities is 41.25 MW and is much less than the required amount of energy. Hydro power accounts for 26.74 MW while thermal generation is now at 14.5 MW. Kigali city consumes more than 60% of the national electricity production. Although thermal power plant of 12.5 MW has recently been installed in Kigali, still power rationing is necessary [2]. The high cost of electricity and its low reliability constitutes a major challenge and hindrance, especially for the commercial and service industries. At present only about 40 % of Kigali city population has access to electricity.

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