Hydropower, Virunga, D.R. Congo

Hydropower for the habitat of mountain gorillas

Our exclusive climate project in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Hydropower, Virunga, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Virunga National Park is home to some of the last mountain gorillas still alive in the world today. Six hundred rangers protect the area from thousands of armed militia, who exploit the region’s natural resources, animals, and, above all, wood used for charcoal trade. This illegal exploitation is a million-dollar business and finances a cruel civil war. In the past 20 years, more than 160 park rangers have died on account of the work they do.

Illegal charcoal made from trees in the Virunga National Park is, for many, their only energy source: 97 percent of the population in this region have no electricity in their home, and many lack basic infrastructure.

If there is no alternative energy source to charcoal, this forest will be completely deforested in less than a decade. This is why this climate project has emerged: a small run-of-river hydroelectric power plant with a capacity of 13.6 MW. It generates enough electricity for 30,000 inhabitants, for many of which this being the first time they have had access to any electricity at all. In the meantime, another 5,000 households and many new small businesses have been connected to the local power grid. The project lays the foundation for economic development in the region, subsequently building stability and peace in the region. Because local demand is so great and the initial project has been so successful, a second run-of-river power plant has been set up in the region.

Certificate type
Estimated Annual Emission Reductions (tons CO2)

Contribution to the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs)

No Poverty
Electricity facilitates economic development in one of the poorest regions of the world.

Affordable and Clean Energy
The 13.6 MW hydropower plant provides clean electricity to 5,000 households via a local micro-grid.

Decent Work and Economic Growth
New jobs in the area were created by the power plant.

Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
Clean technology diffusion - more small hydroelectric power plants are planned in Virunga.

Reduced Inequalities
Electricity supply and development opportunities for all.

Sustainable Cities and Communities
More safety through street lighting in the villages.

Responsible Consumption and Production
Generation of electricity from a renewable source with minimal environmental impact.

Climate Action
The hydropower generates energy free of carbon emissions.

Life on Land
The project helps preserve the biodiversity and unique landscape of Virunga National Park.

Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
Alternative jobs to illegal coal trade help to weaken militias and secure peace in the region.

Partnerships for the Goals
Our long-term support facilitates sustainable development projects in the Global South.

How does hydropower help fight global warming?

Since hydropower is created without burning fossil fuels, it is considered emission-free. The growth of renewable energy production is essential to limiting global warming and securing energy supplies for the future.
The amount of emissions saved by a hydropower project is calculated using the baseline method: how much CO2 would be released by generating the same amount of energy using standard energy production methods for the region?