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AGRICEN Country Scoping Study

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Executive Summary

The main objective of this report is to explore the role agro-industrial enterprises can play in developing clean energy in Kenya. The report explores this potential through a closer examination of selected agro-industrial sectors – sugar, tea and horticulture. These are principal cash crops in Kenya with a relatively long track record and with the operational and organisational sophistication that could allow diversification into clean energy development.

The report highlights the significant potential for generating green electricity from agro- residues in Kenya. With large volume of agro-residues, the sugar sector has, for many years, generated electricity from bagasse (an agro-residue from sugar cane processing) to partially meet its power needs. In one case, a sugar factory has successfully produced surplus power that it now sells to the national grid. Currently, at least eight sugar factories are using bagasse for cogeneration to partially meet their electricity requirements. Typical installed power generation capacity of a sugar factory is about 3-6MW with only a few with installed capacity above 10MW.

Vegetables and flower farms are beginning to invest in anaerobic digesters to generate heat and electricity. For instance, a commercial vegetables farm in Kenya is said to be one of Africa’s first grid-connected biogas plants to sell electricity to the national grid. Other agro- industries that have limited volumes of residues such as the flower sector have started deploying solar PV arrays to partially meet their electricity requirements. Using the significant hydro resources found in tea growing zones, the tea sector in Kenya now has a well proven and growing portfolio of small hydro installations that meet a significant chunk of its power needs. With 80 percent of all tea factories located within 3 to 15 km from a potential hydropower site, a growing number of tea factories are installing small hydro generation plants to cut their energy costs and diversify their revenue stream by selling their excess electricity to the grid.

A survey of agro-industries (outside the sugar sector) that are currently generating their own heat and power from agricultural waste or deploying other renewable energy technologies such as biogas, solar and small hydro show that the installed generation capacity of most is in the order of less than 1 MW with only a handful of tea companies and flower processing enterprises using 2-3MWs. The report is organised in the following fashion: the first two sections present an overview of the energy and key agro-industrial sectors in Kenya, respectively. The third section, examines each selected agro-industrial sector with the objective of assessing its ability to convert its agricultural residues to green energy or to deploy other renewable energy technologies. Based on a review of each sector’s production history and trend, prevailing organisational structure, energy needs and use, the study discusses relevant clean energy options. The fourth section discusses opportunities available for agro-industries to expand clean energy deployment and identify key barriers to harnessing the significant clean energy resources available to agro-industries.

By assessing four main agro-industrial sectors as well as reviewing past and recent policy developments in the energy sector, this report has identified key stakeholders, their interests as well as possible barriers to engaging in clean energy production in their respective sectors. It contributes to strengthening a foundational understanding of the influencing factors, the motivation as well as constraints that impede agro-industries from participating or scaling up their capacity in clean energy production. The report also observes that sectors that have managed to retain their share of the global market i.e tea and horticulture - driven by the need to cut costs and ensure reliable supply -have registered encouraging success in utilising their agricultural waste and deploying renewable energy technologies. With more direct support and better cross-agencies coordination, the Government can create a conducive environment to support and scale-up agro-based clean energy projection.

This paper is available on an exchange basis. If you find it to be useful, we encourage you to send us any relevant publications from your organization. To request for the full paper, please fill in the publications request form

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