Biomass based fuels dominate the energy mix in Rwanda, with as much as 95% of the total energy supply made up of firewood, charcoal, and agricultural residues. This is likely to remain so in the near or even medium term future. The country has identified several untapped renewable energy generation possibilities, namely geothermal (700MW), solar power as well as mini-hydropower (200MW). Solar power is estimated to be used primarily for offgrid electrification solutions (e.g. clinics, schools) but also for water heating, which would substitute biomass and electricity needs for the same purpose. A 250 kW solar PV plant has also been installed in Kigali to supply electricity to
the national grid for testing purposes. Potential for wind energy is unknown, but a wind atlas project has been proposed. Additionally, a methane gas resource (300MW) has been discovered in Lake Kivu and abundant peat resources are believed to be available. The Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy from 2007 opens potentially the electricity sector to private sector investments. Other important documents governing development in the electricity sector are as follows:
• National Energy Policy (2004) outlines the overall situation and sets goals for use of both renewable and thermal generation in order to increase modern energy access. It was updated in 2009, embracing greater use of renewable generation and stating more clearly Rwanda’s commitment to private sector participation in energy sector. As per the policy, the private sector is welcomed at any and all levels of energy supply, including large and small electricity generation projects, on and off grid. The policy foresees that the Government develops a number of mechanisms to facilitate greater private investments through negotiations framework, public-private partnership financing arrangements, feed-in tariffs etc. However, energy projects are to be prioritized for support by government and/or development partners: introduction of competition in the electricity sector is a long-term goal (Ministry of Infrastructure, Rwanda, 2009).
• The National Energy Strategy 2008-2020 was issued together with an updated policy, providing a vision and desired milestones up to year 2020. The Strategy mapped the situation in 2008 as well as provided clear guidelines on what activities need to be undertaken per each sub-category, e.g. installation of solar panels or developing a wind atlas.
• Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy 2008-2012 sets out plans for expansion of generation and transmission capacity as well as rural electrification targets. High rate of economic growth is seen as the primary driver of poverty reduction, and economic growth is dependent on electrification.
• There is also an Electricity Master Plan 2009-2025 and a new Electricity law was passed in 2011