Renewable Energy in Burundi

Solar energy
Average solar insolation stands at 4-5 kWh/ m2/day. There is a large potential for PV electricity generation in rural parts of Burundi as most regions are not grid-connected. Solar energy is being investigated and utilised as a means of off-grid electrification for rural areas. Institutions such as the Solar Electric Light Fund have also invested in small solar systems for public buildings, such as health centres.

Wind energy
Data on wind patterns has been recorded by the Institute for Agronomic Sciences of Burundi (ISABU), primarily for agricultural purposes, giving a mean wind speed between 4 and 6 m/s.  More potential sites probably exist in the higher elevations. Pilot private-sector schemes are currently operational.

Biomass energy
Biogas is a form of energy adapted well to the needs for Burundi. The current government plan is to produce energy by means of digesters. Fuel-wood accounts for the vast majority of Burundi’s energy consumption. However, potential wood consumption in the country is forecast to require production of 180,000 hectares, which surpasses the current forest coverage of 174,000 hectares, suggesting the need for reduction of consumption and the implementation of re-forestation programs. The total sustainable firewood biomass supply from all sources was estimated at 6,400,000 m³.

Hydro power provides the majority of the country’s electricity power supply. The resource, however, is not fully exploited yet. There is considerable potential for further development, including micro, mini and small hydro power. Burundi’s theoretical hydropower capacity is 1,700 MW, however, roughly 300 MW is seen as economically viable, and only 32 MW has been exploited.

Up to 10% of Burundi’s electric power is generated from bagasse a by-product of the sugar industry based on co-generation technology. The bagasse is used as feedstock to produce both process heat and electricity. As a result of extensive use of co-generation in Burundi, the country’s sugar industry (SOSUMO) is self-sufficient in electricity and can sell excess power to the national grid.

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