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Mostly referred to as a positive example is a biogas plant with electricity generation on a sisal cum cattle farm in Kilifi, Kenya. It transforms agricultural waste such as cow manure and sisal to biogas and produces electricity and heat as end products. The technology is almost the same as used in Germany. The plant design seems to be well-adapted to farm operations and has been fully operational since September 2007 (Profile of the company in Kilifi: http://www.biopower.co.ke/About-us.html).
Biogas Plant in Kilifi
Operator of the biogas plant in Kilifi is Biogas Power Company (EA) Ltd., a joint venture of Kilifi Plantations (KE) and the German companies agriKomp GmbH and Schnell Zündstrahlmotoren AG & Co. KG. It was implemented through a tripartite Public Private Partnership (PPP) with GTZ. Earlier key support to the development of the Kenyan biogas sector was provided through GTZ’s bilateral Programme for Private Sector Development in Agriculture (PSDA). GTZ has recently been commissioned to implement the “Project Development Programme – East Africa” (PDP) on behalf of the German Ministry of Economics and Technology under the “Renewables Made in Germany”-initiative. The programme aims at building partnerships between German and East African companies in the field of renewable energy. Biogas has been indentified as one of the priority areas. The PPP-lessons are now integrated into the various follow-up activities of this programme, and the information presented below has been compiled in the context of the PDP.
AgriKomp, the immediate cooperation partner of GTZ, has already built more than 200 biogas plants of power capacities ranging from 40 kW to 1.5 MW spread throughout Europe. GTZ contributed 169,000 € for biogas demonstrations and the training of staff. According to publications of the operating organisation, the plant in Kilifi is the biggest biogas plant in Kenya.
The basic technical data of the plant:
- 750 cbm digester
- Inst. capacity: 150 kWel; actual production max. 90 kW
- 4 t substrate / day: dung from 200 cattle (40%), sisal waste (60%)
- Feedstock available for extension up to 1 Mwel if excess electricity could be sold to the grid at a fair tariff.
- El. Production cost: 0,16 EUR / kWh (for comparison: grid electricity 0,15-0,18 EUR / kWh)
The frame conditions
- Frequent power cuts due to technical faults, low capacity
- Companies have to install emergency backup power systems, mostly diesel (costs: 0,25-0,42 €/kWh)
- Kenya: High and – due to pass-through of fossil fuel costs – fluctuating power costs (e.g. Kilifi: 0,1575 – 0,185 €/kWh )
- Improvement due to strong government and private sector efforts likely, but in the medium term; persistent risk of power cuts due to hydro power vulnerability to drought
- Currently no biogas-specific regulation in East Africa
- Power production of biogas falls under „Standardized PPA” (TZ) or „Feed- in Law“ (KE)
- Kenya: biogas is covered by „biomass“ tariffs, which are too low
According to personal communication from R. Radtke in March 2010 the plant has not yet been connected to the grid.
The lessons learnt in Kilifi, according to Franz (2009):
- Import of equipment: professional agent and close liaison with authorities for clearance of plant equipment required
- Tariffs / grid connection: need to liaise at a very early stage with the Kenya Power and Lighting Co. (KPLC), Ministry of Energy and Energy Regulatory Commission to allow for structured and smooth process
- Local capacities: need to bring qualified staff and train local staff
- Local manufacture: local manufacturing of pipes, wiring, and civil works should be possible and reduce costs
After the positive experience with this pilot plant, investors and government expressed interest and requested GTZ to provide recommendations. Based on the ”hard facts“ of the DBFZ study (GTZ, 2010, see below) recommendations have been provided, and follow up is currently being undertaken under the PDP, focusing on targeted advisory and cooperation with policymakers and investors on the tariff framework.