Rift Valley Energy Ltd. (RVE) is a renewable-energy project development company, dedicated to develop, own and operate renewable energy infrastructure projects in Eastern and Southern Africa. RVE is a wholly owned subsidiary of Rift Valley Corporation, a Zimbabwean headquartered, Sub-Saharan agriculture enterprise with activities in tobacco, tea, timber, bananas and agricultural trading.
To date, RVE has made significant progress, establishing 1) a total of 4.6 MW of generation capacity in Zimbabwe and Tanzania, and 2) building a wide ranging rural distribution network in the Mwenga and Kihansi area, servicing a Distribution License area of about 1,000 km2, comprising a population of over 60,000 people and over 13,000 households.
In Tanzania, RVE is currently working on a project pipeline of about 147 MW, including hydro, wind and solar, all at different stages of development. In the Southern Highlands alone, RVE is planning to invest in three hydros, one wind and one solar project, with an accumulated generation capacity of 17 MW and the potential to supply a total of 7,000 rural households with green, grid quality electricity through connected rural distribution networks. To be able to best serve its growing rural customer base, RVE has established its own rural distribution company (Rural Power Development Ltd. RPDL). RPDL buys electricity from RVE generation units, and onwards sells the electricity under its own brand (Mwenga Power) to its rural customers.
Fully committed to its developmental impact in then region RVE teamed up with a UK based NGO (Energy 4 Impact) and is currently rolling out a three year “Productive Use of Electricity Programme”.
Through this programme, local small businesses will receive assistance to help them overcome the technical and financial hurdles (e.g. though business planning and access to finance), which prevent them investing in commercial electrical appliances that can help them to a) generate a better income for their families and b) save the environment through the use of a clean and sustainable energy source (instead of fossil fuels).
- Are designed as profitable and sustainable business models with majority RVE shareholding
- Are strictly focused on local, renewable energy resources which respect and preserve their local environment
- Include the development of both grid-connected or island-mode energy solutions, involving state-of-the-art electricity vending technologies (i.e. cellular-based vending systems for remote rural customers)
- Integrate regional and local energy infrastructure development initiatives
- Work together with local communities to best service their expectations and needs
- Actively assist in developing local institutional frameworks to best integrate IPPS into national energy policies.
The 4MW Mwenga Hydro Generation and Rural Electrification Project is an energy infrastructure initiative located in the Tanzanian highlands. RVE supported a partnership between the European Union, the Mufindi Tea and Coffee Company (MTC) and the Tea Research Institute of Tanzania (TRIT) with project implementation.
Operational since September 2012, this $10 million project – co-financed by the ACP-EU Energy Facility and the Rural Energy Agency (REA) – has supplied Tanesco, the local tea industry and a rural electrification network with approximately 25,000,000 kW/h of green power per annum. At present, Mwenga Hydro has 17 village transformers installed including one for a local hospital. On completion, the entire project will cover 30 villages supplying over 5,500 rural households and village institutions with affordable and sustainable electricity by using an innovative, mobile-phone based, pre-paid electricity vending system.
In addition to our flagship Hydro projects that are already underway, Rift Valley Energy is also in the process of developing Solar, Wind and Biomass projects in the region. Due for completion over the next two years, these will significantly expand the company’s portfolio of energy solutions to remote communities, adding to smaller turnkey projects that have been undertaken, including:
- BTL 1 – THERMAL POWER (Zimbabwe)
BTL 1 is a steam-engine driven, combined heat-and-power plant at Charter Sawmill (Chimanimani, Zimbabwe) producing 0.5MW of electricity and 5MW of process heat. Charter Sawmill is part of Border Timbers Ltd., a Rift Valley sister company. Waste wood and sawdust produced by the sawmill – both of which are renewable resources – fuel the boilers which, in turn, produce electricity-generating steam. The exhaust heat is used for timber drying. BTL 1 was developed by RVE, co-financed by the 1st ACP-EU Energy Facility and completed in August 2009, within budget. RVE has the necessary licenses, permits and fuel source in place to expand the generation capacity at this site up to 3MW and is currently sourcing funding for this purpose.
- NDOLELA MINI HYDRO (Tanzania)
The Ndolela mini hydro plant has been developed on one of the Rift Valley farms in south-western Tanzania. The objective has been to support the local agricultural business with the provision of clean and sustainable energy.
Through the Mwenga Hydro Project, RVE has entered the Tanzanian rural distribution market. Co-financed by the EU and the Rural Energy Agency, RVE’s rural distribution project owns 200 kms of rural power lines connecting 17 villages to clean renewable energy.
A state-of-the-art, mobile-phone based, pre-paid vending system makes it easy and convenient for rural costumers to buy electricity. Close to 1,800 customers have signed-up to receive our services since the launch of the project in September 2012.
Rift Valley Energy is committed to increase the number of customers fivefold over the next few years. In parallel, RVE will develop other rural distribution projects in Tanzania in order to reach 5,500 rural connections by 2018.
Mwenga Hydro’s rural network stretches past a potential wind generation site that has space available to erect up to 4.5MW (5 off 850 kW units) of wind power on it.
This wind resource typically is greatest during the dry season, when the Mwenga Hydro water flows are at their lowest, and the project therefore presents a unique hybrid opportunity if integrated into the existing Mwenga Hydro PPA.
Current plans are underway to erect an initial 2.5 MW of wind power at the site, so as to balance the dry season hydro generation shortfalls that occur each year. This capacity can be expanded in the future when the rural network demand expands beyond that of installed generation capacity.
The additional generation capacity at this remote location would also allow Mwenga Hydro to consider further expansion of its distribution network, to service unsupplied areas that neighbour the Mwenga Hydro rural network – areas which have previously been judged as too far away from hydro generation source to realistically supply.
This hydro site will feed into the TANESCO grid through a 6 km 33 kV powerline (to be constructed by the project).
The project will also supply two village communities located along the power line route, where approximately 150 connections are anticipated.
The installation is expected to have the ability to run in ‘island mode’ configuration, that would also include a spur of the TANESCO 33 kV grid, in the event of the main TANESCO grid being down. The project will also make a significant positive contribution to the transmission losses and voltage stability within the Tukuyu area.
Two adjacent hydro sites will be developed simultaneously, and linked together to feed a common point of interconnection with TANESCO next to the Luponde Tea factory.
A rural network will be built as part of the project, initially comprising approximately 36km of 33 kV lines, feeding seven village communities with approximately 800 connections. The distribution is expected to grow to 95 km of network, feeding 14 villages and 1600 connections.
The project is expected to have the ability to run in ‘island mode’ configuration in the event of the main TANESCO grid being down. It is also expected to provide valuable voltage support to the surrounding area.