Using waste from vegetable and flower production, biogas is providing energy to Kenya's electricity network.
By Geoffrey Kamadi
NAIVASHA, Kenya, Jan 10 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A commercial farm in Kenya has become Africa's first electricity producer powered by biogas to sell surplus electricity to the national grid, cutting the carbon emissions associated with oil-powered generation.
The Gorge Farm Energy Park in Naivasha produces 2 megawatts (MW) of electricity - more than enough to cultivate its 706 hectares (1,740 acres) of vegetables and flowers, and with sufficient surplus to meet the power needs of 5,000-6,000 rural homes.
The new plant generates not only electricity, but also heat for the farm's greenhouses, with fertiliser as a by-product.
Gorge Farm, approximately 76km (50 miles) northwest of Kenya's capital, Nairobi, is owned by the Vegpro Group, a leading East African exporter of fresh vegetables and its second largest exporter of roses.
Biojoule Kenya, the independent power producer that operates the Gorge Farm plant, signed an agreement to sell electricity to Kenya Power & Lighting Company (KPLC) - the country's sole power distributor - in 2016.
Biojoule Kenya sells the power to Gorge Farm and to KPLC for $0.10 per kilowatt hour (kWh). Diesel-generated power, by contrast, costs $0.38 per kWh to produce.
"The Gorge Farm plant is physical proof that locally produced feedstock can be used to generate clean and cost-effective power for all Kenyans," said Mike Nolan, chief operating officer at Tropical Power, a developer of biogas and solar plants in Africa.
It supplied engines for the plant in conjunction with Clarke Energy, a UK-based engine service provider.