Lake Kivu is a great environmental and economic resource in Rwanda. Its deep-water methane reservoir can help the country to narrow its energy supply gap. However, mishandling of the lake could lead to devastating consequences, from potable water contamination to limnic eruption. To evaluate the lake’s potential for energy harvesting, we have developed a numerical model and validated it experimentally. Based on this model, we propose an optimal methane harvesting strategy. The harvesting efficiency improvement is from 4 to 6% relative to the alternatives. While seemingly insignificant, a 1% improvement of harvesting efficiency extends the operational time of a gas power plant by 5%. With these improvements, the lake will sustainably supply 100 MW of electricity for up to 100 years. Potential CO2 emissions are negligible in comparison with the low-emitting developed countries. We conclude that forestry and agroforestry can mitigate CO2 emissions and reduce currently widespread deforestation. The degassed water after methane extraction poses another environmental concern. It must be reinjected at the depth of 190 – 250 m to minimize the environmental impacts on the lake and allow for continuous methane harvesting.
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