Sunday, February 16, 2014

Pico Hydraulic Power Plant...

This is the pico hydraulic power plant
Rwanda is short of electricity. It is a developing country and the demand for the power has been rapidly increasing. But the supply of the power has not increased as rapidly despite the government's efforts to diversifying the sources of power, including methane gas extraction, hydraulic power plants, charcoal power plants.

In addition to these on-grid power generation and supply, the government has encouraged developers to establish off-grid village power plants. The most popular type is pico hydraulic power plants. It is called pico because of its micro size of the capacity to generate the power. Typically, this pico type includes any micro hydraulic power plants up to 50 kw.

Water channel to collect water
UOB received approval from GIZ EnDev program to be the financial institution to manage up to Euro 4 million to support project developers of these pico hydraulic power plants  and suppliers of solar lighting. GIZ is the German government's implementing organization of various international development projects. EnDev stands for Energizing Development covering all aspects of development projects that may help and enhance the livelihood of the target countries. The funding organization is Department for International Development, the United Kingdom's agency for international development. DFID has six pilot projects to support the energy development around the world and two of them are in Rwanda: village grids and solar lighting.

Pico hydraulic power plan works this way. The operator detours water through a channel and collect the water at a pool at least 20 meters of height. From this pool, the water is dropped through a pipe unto a turbine to produce energy to generate the power.

Field visit team
It is a great honor that they chose to work with UOB, but this area is a new field for UOB. So we took a field visit to see how the pico hydraulic power plant works on February 13th. The team comprised myself, UOB's chief operating officer, loan underwriting team leader, Dr. Lee who is specialized in electrical engineering, along with three people from GIZ.

We visited one in Nyamagabe District in a deep village. This particular plant's capacity is 12 kw and is barely serving the needs of 28 users. Specialists found that the wiring was poorly done, resulting in voltage drop during transmission, and the turbine may not be functioning properly because it was not installed properly. These represented an opportunity for the village to benefit from this EnDev program. The executive secretary of the sector was excited to hear that they may improve their power generation and supply for the village.

We have come back with a hope that this project could benefit many people in the village with the electricity. May the Lord bless us in the design and implementation phases of this program. - Jeffrey

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