The Future of Rwanda’s Energy Production May Hinge On Methane Gas

Power consumption is a topic of substantial debate, and finding renewable energy sources is a top priority right now. Over in Rwanda those concerns have been alleviated now that a lake has been discovered with enough energy to power the entire country. In fact, this lake can do so continuously for at least fifty years, which is quite impressive.

Rwanda Sits On A New Type of Gold

There are many different ways to harvest renewable energy, and things are looking very promising for Rwanda. By harvesting methane from Lake Kivu, scientists have discovered a new way to provide energy to a country in dire need of new solutions–quite an intriguing breakthrough, but one not without risks.

It is rather interesting to learn that this hidden source of renewable energy sits below the water of Lake Kivu. Although methane gas may not be the most common solution for electricity needs, it is quite a potent solution. Unfortunately, it has a big risk factor, as the gases can poison human beings. In Rwanda that means two million lives are at stake.

Methane gas is usually created by volcanoes, of which there are plenty spread out all over the globe. In some cases nearby lakes have rich deposits of methane gas, which piques the interest of scientists. Since Lake Kivu is a lot deeper than the average lake, the methane gas is not dispersing into the atmosphere.

KivuWatt, a power station located on the shorelines of this lake, has been extracting methane gas to provide 25 megawatts of power. It is expected that the operation will expand to produce 100 megawatts in the coming months–half of Rwanda’s energy.

One drawback to this approach is how the methane gas is trapped under pressure. Should Lake Kivu’s pressure balance be disturbed, either through natural occurrences or otherwise, this  energy source could become a national natural disaster. The gas reserves are still accumulating as we speak, and the pressure will need to be released eventually.

It seems logical that companies would want to tap into this energy source while they still can. Not doing anything about this pressurized gas reserve will only speed up the destabilization process. This is a very volatile situation, to say the least, but one that could impact the future of renewable energy in unprecedented ways.

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