Mining Methane From A Rwandan Lake Offers to More Than Double Nation's Electric Capacity

lake kivu photo

photo: Wikipedia

This is one you definitely don't hear about too often: Over at Green Biz Marc Gunther is highlighting the efforts of Contour Global to extract methane from Lake Kivu, on the border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Here's how they are doing it:First off, Lake Kivu has a good deal of trapped methane and CO2 in it, similar to Cameroon's Lake Nyos, which had a gas explosion in the mid 1980s killing 1700 people and nearly double that in livestock. That's part one of the motivation.

Part two is obviously power generation. Rwanda in total has just 69 megawatts of installed electrical generation capacity, and the $325 million plan from Contour will expand that 100 megawatts in one go.

To get at that methane contour will float a barge with a gas extraction facility on it out in the lake,

The barge will process the liquid, separate out methane gas (CH4), which is the principal component of natural gas, and return the CO2 safely to the lake. The gas will then be sent by pipeline to a power plant in lakeside town of Kibuye.

Gunther goes into the potential social and political benefits of the project; it's well worth a read: Rwanda Turns to Trapped Methane for Electricity, Growth
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