PV project at Rwanda genocide site begins operation

The PV array at the Genocide Memorial site in Kigali, Rwanda. Image: Centennial Generating.

A memorial to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda is to be powered almost entirely from solar following the completion of a PV system on the site.

The project was completed earlier this month at the Genocide Memorial in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.

Details of the project’s size have been withheld for customer confidentiality reasons, but David John Frenkil, founder and managing director of Centennial Generating Co, the company behind the project, said the system would meet the majority of the memorial site's electricity needs.

“The project will reduce most of the need for power during sunlight hours. The memorial centre is the most visited tourist site in the country and it's quite large in terms of its energy demands, so it's pretty great to remove most of the power needs and we sell them the power at a rate that's cheaper than they get from the utility,” Frenkil said.

Later in the year Frenkil said battery storage units would be added to the solar system to provide additional protection against power outages. Frenkil said the expected storage system would provide two hours of battery back up, safeguarding against most power shortages.

“Our data shows that roughly 85% of power shortages [in Kigali] are less than two hours. So that means that by providing at least two hours of battery storage we can mitigate most of the need for standby diesel,” Frenkil told PV Tech.

Centennial is a newly formed company that is targeting principally the commercial and industrial segment in sub-Saharan Africa.

Frenkil said that with much of the current investment in African solar going to small off-grid systems or large utility arrays, there was a need for investment in projects of an intermediate size that would help businesses cut their power costs and avoid problems associated with unreliable supply.

“Centennial focuses on a currently under-addressed challenge for commercial and industrial customers in and near urban centres that need more affordable and reliable power supply,” he said.

Under Centennial’s model, the company finances, installs, owns, operates and maintains the systems it builds. Frenkil said it had a pipeline of PPA in progress with businesses such as hotels, office buildings and factories.

The second, battery phase of the Genocide Memorial project is due to be completed later this year.

Tags: rwanda, solar-plus-storage, c&i

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