Clarke Energy Wins Bid To Supply Power Plants

Clarke Energy will deliver 25 GE J620 3 MW Jenbacher gas engines to Symbion’s Kivu 56 and KP1 power plants on the shores of Lake Kivu in Rwanda.

Symbion Power, a USA-based independent power producer (IPP) that develops, builds and operates generation, transmission and distribution projects in developing countries, has secured the rights to deliver two projects in Rwanda on Lake Kivu. The Kivu 56 project is planned to export 56 MW of power into the Rwandan grid under a 25-year concession. KP1 originated as an earlier pilot project, and Symbion has acquired the plant and will upgrade it from 3.6 MW to 25 MW, which will be delivered to the Rwandan grid system under a separate 25-year concession.

“After a long and rigorous competitive process, we have selected Clarke Energy, using GE’s Jenbacher gas engines, as our preferred technology provider,” said Symbion Power’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer Paul Hinks. “These two power projects at Lake Kivu will increase capacity by 81 MW and significantly reduce the current cost of generation in Rwanda.”

Lake Kivu, one of the African Great Lakes, is a unique body of water in the world, which at its base is saturated with biogas that is a combination of methane and carbon dioxide gases. This gas is produced by way of the unique combination of 500-m depth, heat originating from magma under the rift valley and microbes, breaking down organic material that falls from higher in the lake. The surface of the lake is 1460 m above sea level.

Unlike normal biogas, which is produced in anaerobic digesters, organic process plants process biodegradable waste, so at the base of the lake, the biogas contains only 20% methane. This level is lower than that required even in a Jenbacher gas engine. The plan is to strip the carbon dioxide—which forms the balance of the volume of the gas—using water and then to put the gas into reciprocating gas engines located at discrete power stations on the shores of the lake. The electricity from the engines will be put directly into Rwanda’s electricity distribution network.

GE’s Jenbacher Type 6 gas engines are offered in 12-, 16-, 20- and 24-cylinder variants with a bore and stroke of 190 X 220 mm and a 6.24 L displacement. The 1500 rpm engine speed results in a high power density with low installation costs, and its pre-combustion chamber achieves high efficiency with low emissions, the company said.

“GE’s Jenbacher gas engines will provide higher efficiency and increased capacity for Symbion Power’s projects, helping to solve the energy challenges in the region,” said Leon van Vuuren, general manager, global sales and commercial operations for GE’s Distributed Power business.

Clarke Energy, which was acquired by Kohler in 2017, is one of the largest authorized sales and service providers for Jenbacher gas engines and has installed over 6300 MW of Jenbacher power generation equipment in 25 countries.

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