European Ambassadors visit ICU activities in Burundi to improve energy access in remote rural areas through hydro and solar power.

img_4066Bujumbura – 21 November 2016.  A delegation of five European Ambassadors of Belgium, France, Germany, Holland and United Kingdom, led by the Head of the EU Delegation in Burundi, visited ICU’s project activities in Kigwena, that improves energy access for the population of the village.  Ambassadors visited the hydroelectric power plant to be rehabilitated and the new electric grid of Kigwena where ICU is working with the local population and the Burundian Agency for Rural Electrification (ABER), to bring electricity where needed.

This project, that envisages also the rehabilitation of other three hydropower plants in Nyabikere, Butezi and Ryarusera, is funded by the European Union and the Energy and Environment Partnership Africa (EEP) and aims at reducing the energy gap in the country. At the moment only 10% of the population have access to electricity and the hydroelectric potential is underexploited. Therefore, ICU decided to recover already existing infrastructures to improve the quantity and the quality of distributed energy from renewable resources.

In Kigwena, the 62,2 kW turbine, once rehabilitated, will produce 304 MWh/y that will be distributed to the village thanks to 4 km of medium tension grid and 4 km of low tension grid rehabilitated thanks to the project. Already 50 clients, families, mills and shops, requested to be connected to the new grid.

Through this project, ICU is promoting innovative and sustainable technologies that can be easily replicated and improve energy access in rural areas. In fact, Kigwena can work both in-grid and off-grid, improving on one hand energy availability at national level and on the other hand this system guarantees energy supply in case of problems on the national grid. In Nyabikere a solar photovoltaic system will reinforce the hydroelectric power plant, compensating for less energy production during dry season thanks to the creation of the first solar-hydro hybrid plant in Burundi.

All the visitors appreciated ICU’s work, highlighting the importance improving existing infrastructures ameliorating people lives with no impact on the environment. The Delegation concluded its visit wishing to visit Kigwena again when the plant will be fully operational.

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