Kenya: Africa’s first grid connected biogas farm powers up
A commercial biogas farm in Kenya has become Africa’s pioneering electricity producer powered by biogas to sell additional electricity to the national grid, cutting the carbon emissions associated with oil-powered generation.
The Gorge Farm Energy Park in Naivasha generates 2 megawatts (MW) of electricity – more than enough to cultivate its 706 hectares of vegetables and flowers, and with adequate surplus to meet the power needs of 5,000-6,000 rural households.
The new plant generates not only electricity, but also heat for the farm’s greenhouses, with fertilizer as a by-product.
Gorge Farm, roughly 76km northwest of Nairobi, is owned by the Vegpro Group, a top East African exporter of fresh vegetables and it’s the second largest exporter of roses.
Biojoule Kenya, the independent power producer that runs the Gorge Farm plant, signed an accord to sell electricity to Kenya Power & Lighting Company (KPLC) – the nation’s only 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 costs $0.38 per kWh to generate.
“The Gorge Farm plant is substantial proof that locally produced feedstock can be used to produce clean and less expensive power for Kenyans,” said Mike Nolan, CEO at Tropical Power, a developer of biogas and solar plants in Africa.
Although anaerobic digestion of waste to produce biogas is a recognised technology in Europe and Asia, the concept is still new in Africa at large scale. The technology had been set up in 45 sites internationally before debuting at the Gorge Farm plant.