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How A Kenyan Farm Turns Harvest Waste To Much Needed Electricity

Across Africa countries are  committed to scaling up renewable energy production to meet their growing  energy needs. However, this will require bold thinking and innovation to  deliver affordable and reliable power solutions that can be rapidly deployed.  When even waste material can be used to produce energy, it’s a win-win  situation all round.

Africa’s first grid-connected anaerobic  digester plant on Gorge Farm in Kenya was developed by Tropical Power and is  operated by independent power producer Biojoule. The Gorge Farm Energy Park,  launched in August 2015, uses organic waste and sunshine to produce renewable  power, both of which are plentiful on the 800ha vegetable farm.

Currently only 23 per cent of Kenya’s  population have access to electricity, says the World Bank, yet access  to energy is a key imperative for economic development.

Gorge Farm Energy Park has an  installed capacity of 2.8MW,  with a  net output of 2.2 MW bringing much-needed power into the grid at a time when Kenya’s energy needs are steadily rising.

The plant is powered by GE’s J420  Jenbacher engines, which are able to operate smoothly at 2,000 metres above  sea level. This was the first time that Jenbacher engines were deployed on a  renewable energy project in East Africa. As the largest biodigester of its  type in East Africa, Gorge Farm Park is seen as a trailblazer for renewable  energy development in the region.

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The project cost US$6.5 million to  build and was developed in under 12 months, with a projected payback period  of less than six years.

“Through the Gorge Farm Energy  Park we aim to displace the expensive and imported generation fuels – like  diesel and heavy fuel oil – from Kenya’s distributed power mix. The Gorge  Farm AD Plant is proof that locally produced feedstock can generate clean and  cost effective distributed power,” says Mike Mason, chairman of Tropical  Power.

“This was the first anaerobic digester project for GE in sub-Saharan Africa. It is a big win for Kenya and Africa in general, demonstrating that waste to power projects are feasible in this market” says Oluwatoyin Abegunde, GE’s distributed power leader for Africa.

Beyond producing power, the plant  has multiple environmental benefits. These include the development of a rich  natural fertiliser, which is a by-product of the power production process.  Once fed back into the land this helps to improve crop health and reduces the  need for synthetic fertilisers. Further by displacing oil-fired generation  from the grid, the plant reduces carbon emissions by 7,000 tons a year.

“The Gorge Farm Energy Park is a  showcase project for Nakuru County, Kenya and the African continent.  Distributed power projects are vital to our energy security, reliability and  efficiency. And the Park will be using local crop waste and the sun to  generate clean, renewable power close to the point of use,” said Nakuru  County Governor Kinuthia Mbugua.

Source: All Africa

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Written by PH

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