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Article

Progress for On-Grid Renewable Energy Systems: Identification of Sustainability Factors for Small-Scale Hydropower in Rwanda

1
African Center of Excellence in Energy for Sustainable Development, University of Rwanda, Avenue de l’ Armée, P.O. Box 3900, Kigali, Rwanda
2
Division of Environmental Systems Analysis, Chalmers University of Technology, 412 96 Gothenburg, Sweden
3
Energy Institute, Colorado State University, 430 N. College Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80524, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: José Matas
Energies 2021, 14(4), 826; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14040826
Received: 27 October 2020 / Revised: 17 December 2020 / Accepted: 25 December 2020 / Published: 5 February 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Wind, Wave and Tidal Energy)
In Rwanda, most small-scale hydropower systems are connected to the national grid to supply additional generation capacity. The Rwandan rivers are characterized by low flow-rates and a majority of plants are below 5 MW generation capacity. The purpose of this study is to provide a scientific overview of positive and negative factors affecting the sustainability of small-scale hydropower plants in Rwanda. Based on interviews, field observation, and secondary data for 17 plants, we found that the factors contributing to small-scale hydropower plant sustainability are; favorable regulations and policies supporting sale of electricity to the national grid, sufficient annual rainfall, and suitable topography for run-of-river hydropower plants construction. However, a decrease in river discharge during the dry season affects electricity production while the rainy season is characterized by high levels of sediment and soil erosion. This shortens turbine lifetime, causes unplanned outages, and increases maintenance costs. Further, there is a need to increase local expertise to reduce maintenance cost. Our analysis identifies environmental factors related to the amount and quality of water as the main current problem and potential future threat to the sustainability of small-scale hydropower. The findings are relevant for energy developers, scholars, and policy-makers in Rwanda and East Africa. View Full-Text
Keywords: small-scale hydropower plants; sustainability factors; on-grid systems; smart grids; Africa; Rwanda small-scale hydropower plants; sustainability factors; on-grid systems; smart grids; Africa; Rwanda
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MDPI and ACS Style

Gasore, G.; Ahlborg, H.; Ntagwirumugara, E.; Zimmerle, D. Progress for On-Grid Renewable Energy Systems: Identification of Sustainability Factors for Small-Scale Hydropower in Rwanda. Energies 2021, 14, 826. https://doi.org/10.3390/en14040826

AMA Style

Gasore G, Ahlborg H, Ntagwirumugara E, Zimmerle D. Progress for On-Grid Renewable Energy Systems: Identification of Sustainability Factors for Small-Scale Hydropower in Rwanda. Energies. 2021; 14(4):826. https://doi.org/10.3390/en14040826

Chicago/Turabian Style

Gasore, Geoffrey, Helene Ahlborg, Etienne Ntagwirumugara, and Daniel Zimmerle. 2021. "Progress for On-Grid Renewable Energy Systems: Identification of Sustainability Factors for Small-Scale Hydropower in Rwanda" Energies 14, no. 4: 826. https://doi.org/10.3390/en14040826

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