Kakamega County to benefit from green energy project

A green energy plant that is expected to use human waste is set to be constructed at a cost of Sh. 61billion in Kakamega County.

The project, targeting to generate approximately 140 megawatts (MW), estimates that 100 MW of the generated power will be relayed to the national grid while the rest will be used by the investor.

Green energy is the production and use of natural resources like solar, hydroelectric, landfill gas, biomass, and wind that has minimal effects on the environment, is sustainable and affordable at community level.

While Green Africa Foundation gives this definition, America stresses that under Power Africa program biomass, wind, solar and geothermal projects in Kenya and across Africa will be bankrolled.

Choreographed by an investor with massive interests in a globally applied technology, it is expected to employ 2,300 people.

Chief Executive Officer of USA based SBA technologies, Green Power International and Togo Technologies said they will construct the plant in Lunza village, Butere Sub-County.

With an annual turnover of Sh 26 5billion, the plant is due to have an indirect employment of 4,000, says the CEO, Julius Mwale, during a tour of the site where installation of over 400 solar powered street lights is an ocular proof of his passion for green energy.

Mwale says the project’s target is 3,000 solar street lights being assembled and installed at a cost of Sh.15million.

To be second to none, in power generation capacities, in Western Region (Busia, Bungoma, Kakamega and Vihiga Counties), the Independent Power Producer (IPP) will collect and transport 4,800 tonnes of solid, medical and industrial waste towards power generation, said Mwale.

Displaying the design of the plant, he explained that the machines would separate recyclable and heavy metal before gas is produced. These will comprise a dryer, slagging unit, boiler, steam turbine and gas treatment system.

Global Energy Network Institute (GENI) states that an IPP, Mumias Sugar Company is in the vicinity, which generates 35 MW dispatches 26 MW to the national grid.

The total potential for co-generation using sugar cane bagasse is 193 MW. Opportunities of generating up to 300 MW have not been exploited, adds GENI.

But Mumias Sugar Company which was, hitherto, the largest sugar producer in Kenya is on its knees after its core mandate turned sour in the recent past leading to uprooting of cane by scores of farmers owed billions of shillings, thus an alternative source of bagasse, a residue of cane, is sought.

The grand idea of the plant in the region comes when the national government is broadening it sources, production and consumption of power while US President Donald Trump’s Administration is scouting for renewable energy projects in which to invest in Kenya and across Africa.

According to the US government’s coordinator of the programme, Andrew Herscowitz, 30,000 MW and 60 million connections are to be in place by 2030 in Africa.

To re-affirm this, he is lately quoted by some media in Africa as saying the program is on track to achieve its goals which, he notes, have been tripled.

President Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, had injected Sh 937.9billion to fund similar projects in Africa with an aim of doubling access to electricity on the continent.

Kenya added 1.3 million households to its electricity grid in 2016, raising the percentage of connected citizens to 55%, from 27% in 2013, when the country’s electrification campaign began.

Centre Global Development (CGD) contends that the country may be among the first in Africa to achieve universal access to electricity after Seychelles, Mauritius and Algeria.

If it does by the year 2020, Kenya will have achieved this in seven years yet it took the USA 33 years to reach the universal level of electrification, notes Todd Moss, of CGD.

This will be a major milestone as about 70 percent of the 600 million people on the continent have no access to electricity, the centre adds.

As Vision 2030, envisages meeting a target of 5,110 MW of geothermal power in the next 13 years, the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum says in a newsletter of September 16, 2017, that an extra 400 MW of new capacity is expected after completion of 500 KV HDVC Ethiopia- Kenya transmissions in 2019.

The country’s target capacity is 9,200 MW by 2030, against a demand of 15,000 MW, says GENI which notes that Kenya’s Rift Valley has the potential of producing 10,000 MW of geothermal power whereas sites identified (Marsabit, Ngong and Coast) for wind power for sale to the national grid have the prospects of generating 1,000MW. But Vision 2030 targets a capacity of 2,036 MW from wind which has an estimated speed of 8-12m/s and already has 350 pumps installed.

Kenya’s Feed in Tariff policy encourages developing of green energy as the country receives daily insolation of 4- 6KWh/m2 and uses it mainly for photovoltaic system (PSV), water heating and drying. Solar PV systems are used in pumping water, lighting, cathodic protection of pipelines and telecommunications. With an installed capacity of 4MW and 140,000 solar water heating systems, the country is, doubtless, revving to benefit from clean energy projects.

Source: Kenya News Agency