A 25 MW power plant in Rwanda will use methane gas from the nearby Lake Kivu as fuel.

The plant will be built by Wartsila and operated by KivuWatt, a subsidiary of New York-based power company ContourGlobal, and is expected to be operational by the end of 2012.

The facility will be powered by 20-cylinder Wartsila 34SG gas engines and KivuWatt plans to increase its output by another 75 MW once it is up and running.

Lake Kivu, on the border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, contains high concentrations of naturally occurring methane gas ­– so high that extraction is essential to avoid a “catastrophic” saturation point said ContourGlobal’s president Joseph C. Brandt.

“For the Republic of Rwanda this is a win-win situation. On the one hand, gas levels in Lake Kivu need to be reduced in order to lessen the risks of a spontaneous gas eruption in the future that could have hazardous consequences. At the same time, the country urgently needs additional power generation capacity, and so by utilizing the lake’s methane gas, both goals are achieved,” he said.

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