Energy Efficiency Potentials in the Kenyan Tea Sector

From energypedia


Kenya is one of the leading producers of tea – the largest in Africa and next to China, India and Sri Lanka one of the global leaders. However, tea processing requires intensive energy input and the processing is often times unsustainable and also quite costly. Thus, the energy saving potential in the Kenyan tea sector is significant. To tap this potential, GIZ-Powering Agriculture has entered into a development partnership which aims to improve the energy use in Kenyan tea factories in order to improve the energy efficiency and to mitigate climate change by generating knowledge about economically feasible investments which save energy, mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and which increase the productivity of the tea factories.

Energy Needs in Kenya's Tea Sector

Kenya's Tea Sector

Kenya is one of the leading producers of tea, coffee, and flowers. The agricultural sector is responsible for 65% of all export revenues (Delegation der Deutschen Wirtschaft in Kenia (AHK), 2014[1]).Especially the tea industry is next to tourism and the horticultural sector one of the most productive industries in Kenya with an average annual growth rate of 4% over the past 10 years. While the agriculture constitutes the largest share of export revenues, tea production generates the biggest capital share of the agricultural sector. Worldwide the country is also the largest exporter of tea, with 95% of all produced tea being exported and only 5% is consumed in Kenya directly. 

Energy Needs

Processing of tea is highly energy-intensive, especially the processing activities such as drying, grading and packaging. Therefore, 85% of the whole energy consumption relates to thermal energy and the remaining 15% to electricity (United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP), 2012 [2]). As a result 30% of total production costs refer to energy needs (Delegation der Deutschen Wirtschaft in Kenia (AHK), 2014 [3]).

The most energy intensive step is drying; which is also the reason why many companies changed their boiler techniques and switched from oil to wood [1]. Although the costs  for drying could be cut by one-third, the factories are still facing sustainability problems.

Nonetheless, the current focus is on electricity. Most of the electricity (59%) is used while withering and during the CTC (crushing, tearing, curling) –process[1]. However, one major problem of tea factories is that they are often at the end of the distribution line, so that they face heavy grid imbalances and variations in voltage which results in standby-generators working for many hours[2]. In addition, the energy auditing of one of the KTDA tea factories revealed that; although electricity has a share of only 15% of the total energy consumption, it has a share of more than 50% of total energy costs. Therefore and also as the tea processing is very energy-intensive, alternative energy sources such as hydro, wind, or solar along with the identification of energy saving potentials are interesting for the tea sector.

Development Partnership

The Powering Agriculture development Partnership with Betty’s and Taylors of Harrogate and Kenya Tea Development Agency Holdings Ltd. aims to explore the potentials of energy savings. Energy audits in four tea factories analysed energy use and developed recommendations for improvements. Trainings courses provided technicians with the qualifications to carry out energy audits in more factories.

Kenya Tea Development Agency Holdings Ltd. (KTDA) is the most important market player in Kenya’s tea sector which manages 63 tea factories and which constitutes 60% of the national tea production [3]. Thereby KTDA comprises large plantations and around 560.000 smallholder farmers who deliver tea to the KTDA factories. The remaining 40% hark back to big plantations so-called Tea Estates.

Bettys and Taylors of Harrogate, founded in 1919, is an important and rapidly growing UK-based tea company. The company pursues an ambitious and leading sustainability strategy that includes a reduction of 50% in relative carbon throughout its supply chain. In addition it works closely with its strategic suppliers within KTDA in order to help to achieve the goal and bring benefits to the factories, the farmers and the environment. The company is also one of the founders of the Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP) which is a member organization and association of 40 international tea companies. The partnership aims to support the industry along the value chain in its further development in terms of sustainability[1]. ETP has been working on energy issues for climate change mitigation together with KTDA for the past five years and has had a very successful PPP with the GIZ that assisted KTDA smallholder farmers to adapt to climate change.

Further Information


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Delegation der Deutschen Wirtschaft in Kenia (AHK), 2014. Zielmarktanalyse Energieeffizienz in der Industrie und in Gebäuden - Kenia und Tansania. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "ahka" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "ahka" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "ahka" defined multiple times with different content
  2. 2.0 2.1 United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP), 2012. Bridging Gaps. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "UNEP" defined multiple times with different content
  3. 3.0 3.1 Delegation der Deutschen Wirtschaft in Kenia (AHK), 2014. Zielmarktanalyse Kenia - Solar PV & Windkraft. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "ahkb" defined multiple times with different content