A $23.7m solar field has gone from paper contract to physical reality within a year in Rwanda.
The plant, shaped in a way that resembles the African continent, contains 28,360 solar panels and is set in the magnificent green hills of the Rwandan countryside, 60km from the capital, Kigali. It was completed in July 2014 and has produced an estimated 15 million kilowatt hours within a year.
Computer-controlled photovoltaic panels rotate from dawn till dusk to follow the sun and maximise power generation, resulting in a 20% improvement of efficiency compared with stationary panels. The panels are sourced in China and the transformers are from Germany.
The plant, that has also created over 350 local jobs, increased generation potential by 6% and provides power to over 15,000 homes.
The 8.5 megawatt generating plant promises to have great potential for the future of the continent. Twagirimana, one of the few full-time staff on site, says “we have plenty of sun. Some are living in remote areas where there is no energy. Solar will be the way forward for African countries.”
Electricity is notoriously scarce in Rwanda. Back in 2013, the country only had 110 megawatts of capacity for its population of 12 million. In contrast, Israel has 13,000 megawatts for 8 million people.