Turkish company Hakan Mining and Electricity Generation Industry Inc. has signed a power purchase and concessional agreement with Rwanda to design, build, finance, own, operate and transfer an 80-MW peat-to-power plant on the eastern African country’s marshland area of Gisagara, located on the border with Burundi.

Hakan says it is developing the $400-million plant over a 47-month period, with financing arranged by the African Finance Corp. almost five years after the company approached the Rwanda government as an unsolicited bidder to develop the project, the largest such project in Africa.

On its website, the Turkish firm says it will harvest the peat with the so-called dry method, extracting the fuel from a bog that lies between two ditches, protected against flooding by high walls of vegetation.

An estimated 155 million tons of dry peat, spread over a nearby area of about 50,000 hectares, will power the plant. The peat resource has the capacity to generate 450 MW annually over a 26-year period, after which Hakan will transfer the plant to the Rwanda government.

Hakan could not immediately confirm the anticipated returns from the project. Company Chairman Ahmet Karasoy previously said the peat-to-power electricity will be cheaper “and will use local resources in a sustainable way.” By 2018, Rwanda wants to increase its installation capacity to 563 MW from the current 185 MW and scale up access to electricity to 70%, with 48% to the national grid and 22% to off-grid solutions.

The project’s technology, which is expected to be featured in April at one of Turkey’s leading trade fairs, will use Austria-based Andritz's fluidized-bed boilers, which convert peat into steam at 520° C and 80 bars. However, Hakan could not immediately confirm whether the equipment is suitable for other fuel sources.

Hakan says the generated electricity will be 40% cheaper than electricity generated from burning heavy fuel oil. At least 300,000 people will benefit from the project.

Rwanda also is developing the 15-MW Gishoma peat-to-power project and three others, with a combined capacity of 45 MW; their prefeasibility was completed in 2013.