A green power plant that uses organic crop waste is set to be commissioned in March 2015 in Naivasha, adding up to 2.2MW to the national grid. Tropical Power Energy Group has built the first Anaerobic Digester (AD) plant in Africa with a plan to supply electricity to Kenya Power.
This facility utilises local organic crop waste that is digested by micro-organisms feeding in the absence of oxygen to produce biogas. The biogas is then combusted in gas engines to produce electricity and heat.
“The Gorge Farm AD Plant is a pioneering power project for Kenya. Distributed power projects are vital to Kenya’s energy security, reliability and efficiency, by generating electricity close to the point of use,” says Johnnie McMillan, Managing Director, Tropical Power.
“Through biogas and solar, we want to displace expensive and imported generation fuels – like diesel and heavy fuel oil – from Kenya’s distributed power mix. The Gorge Farm AD Plant is physical proof that locally-produced feedstock can be used to generate clean and cost-effective distributed power for all Kenyans.”
The Gorge Farm AD Plant utilises 50,000 tonnes of organic crop waste each year. It will produce at least35,000 tonnes of nitrogen-rich matter as a by-product from the biogas process. Gorge Farm will use this as rich natural fertiliser to improve soil conditioning and crop yields.
McMillan vouches for the AD technology which takes advantage of large scale farming, as well as food and beverage production.
“This is exciting for Kenya, where agriculture is a mainstay of the economy and there is a strong domestic food production capability. We have worked with tier one partners to ensure the bankability of this and future projects for farmers and feedstock owners.”
General Electric’s Jenbacher gas engines are being used for the first time in East Africa in a renewable energy project. The containerized gas engines are configured for cogeneration, with surplus heat recovered as hot water and used to support the Plant’s process heating.
The Gorge Farm AD Plant was constructed in 12 months and it cost US$6.5 million (Sh591 million) to build. It is projected to have a 5.5-year payback period –due to the combination of grid sales and higher tariff energy supply to Gorge Farm. The plant has an effective lifecycle of more than 20 years.