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MININFRA embarks on power loss reduction, and upgrading substations

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Expected to significantly reduce power blackouts and consolidate current grid capacity once completed

Rwanda’s Infrastructure Ministry (MININFRA) with the support of the European Union and the Belgium government on April 1st conducted a joint field visit of the two thermal power substations in Jabana sector in Kigali City, which constitute part of the facilities that will benefit from an upgrading project underway.

The project to upscale the conditions and capacity of power substations around Kigali is part of the Rwandan government’s project to reduce losses incurred in generation, transmission and distribution of electricity due to worn out and inappropriate infrastructure.

The Loss Reduction Project as known among concerned parties is funded by the European Union and the Belgian government in efforts to bridge the existent gap in infrastructure that was in 2011 faulted for costing the country more 23% of power value in losses, from generation, transmission and distribution levels of the energy cycle.

Implementing the current phase of the loss reduction project in Kigali will see what is technically referred to as the Kigali Ring Network improved to reduce losses and in so doing provide sufficient energy in the Rwandan capital.

Among others these loss reduction efforts will help reduce power blackouts which have been affecting some parts of the city, as a result of the infrastructure that is not consistent with the current power needs of its residents.

According to Hon. Germaine Kamayirese the State Minister in Charge of Energy, Water and Sanitation at MININFRA, the project is part of Government of Rwanda’s efforts to consolidate available energy on the grid and establish the necessary infrastructure to effectively handle the expected increase in the energy capacities on the Rwandan grid from a number of projects underway across the country.

“There are several projects to generate or purchase more energy that will significantly increase Rwanda’s grid capacity but this also calls for an upgrade of the infrastructure to handle the utility efficiently and effectively,” she noted during the visit.

From the current 154MW capacity on the national grid, Rwanda targets to increase energy generation to at least 563MW by the year 2018, an increment that calls for significant upgrading of the current transmission and distribution infrastructure.

This is the only way the country will be able to ensure reliable access to yield the targeted 70% of households with access to electricity during the same period.

Components of the project

The Loss Reduction Project will see MNINFRA rehabilitate, upgrade and construct in some cases new power substations around the City of Kigali. The components of the Project include the construction of 110kv line connecting Jabana-Mont Kigali-Gahanga covering a total distance of 23km, among others.

According to officials from the Rwanda Energy Group and MININFRA, the new power transmission line will facilitate the transportation of electricity in high voltage which will in turn reduce losses that were previously suffered as a result of transmitting low voltage power.

“Transmitting low voltage power is a big cause for much of the power losses suffered but with the new transmission lines, the proportion of low power transmitted will significantly reduce and thus the losses.”

The construction of the new transmission lines will also help establish reliable power supply especially for key areas that need electricity. Such would include ensuring reliable supply to industrial areas and other high priority areas.

This will be achieved by ensuring that such places have at least two alternative supply lines, such that in case of interrupted supply of electricity on the high voltage line; another alternative medium voltage line can be used to ensure reliable supply.

Also, the project will include the construction of new and upgrading of already existing substations.

For instance, at the Mont Kigali substation, which has been overloaded in the past due to increasing electricity demand from the central Kigali district, there will be an upgrade to extend the facility. This will include installing two additional transformers.

A substation will also be constructed at Gahanga to supply the growing industrial area and serve the planned state of the art international stadium.

All upgrades and new installations according to the partners are targeted at reducing the load that has been accumulated on the Kigali ring network, despite that the infrastructure had been constructed with consideration of a lower demand.

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