Firm sets up Africa’s largest biogas plant
A Sh765 million biogas plant being set up in Naivasha will generate 2.2 megawatts of power when in operation.
Speaking at the commissioning of the project on Friday, Tropical Power managing director Johnnie McMillan said the new anaerobic digester (AD) will sell 50 per cent of its electricity to Gorge Farm and the balance to Kenya Power for hook into the national grid.
Mr McMillan said 50,000 tonnes of organic waste will be consumed per year by the plant.
“More than 35,000 tonnes output from the process could be used as rich, natural fertiliser to improve the crop yield for local farms,” he said.
He described the pioneering power project as vital to the Kenyan energy sector as production of power is close to the point of use, thus ensuring reliability, efficiency and cutting the transition cost.
The plant will be owned and managed by BiojouleKenya Limited, an independent power producer and part of The Tropical Power Energy Group.
This is the first utility scale facility ever to be granted a power purchase agreement by Kenya Power pending ratification from the Energy Regulatory Commission.
The managing director said plans to build renewable power assets across Africa were underway to produce over 130 megawatts of clean, distributed energy by 2018 including countries such as Ghana.
“By 2016, the construction of a further 10 megawatts of solar generation capacity will commence,” said Mr McMillan
Gorge Farm Energy Park will also be the principal field facility for an Oxford University research programme led by Tropical Power Chairman Mike Mason. This project aims to radically alter the economics of AD and hybridise renewable technologies to provide power that can be connected to the national grid.
It will also be developing rain-fed energy crops for semi-arid regions that will not displace food crops.
Mr McMillan said the plant uses locally available organic crop waste as feedstock for an innovative two-stage process that is up to 30 per cent more efficient compared to the single-stage plants.
“This waste is digested by the micro–organism feeding in the absence of oxygen to produce biogas. The biogas is them combusted in gas engines to produce electricity and heat,” said the boss.
Speaking at the launch, GE Distributed Power Leader for Africa George Njenga said this is the first AD project in sub-Saharan Africa for the group.
“It is a big win for Kenya to get a ground-breaking project like this off the ground. It needs the developers, researchers, suppliers and government to work hand in hand. We look forward to working with Tropical Power, Kenya Power and the Ministry of Energy on more ground-breaking projects,” he said.
Nakuru Governor Kinuthia Mbugua said The Gorge Farm Energy Park was a “showcase project” for the county, Kenya and the Africa.
He said distributed power projects are vital for energy security, reliability and efficiency.