Biogas Energy in Kenya

Biogas Energy in Kenya

The analysis of the market potential for domestic biogas in rural Kenya was carried out in September – November 2009, commissioned by GIZ( by then GTZ). Most domestic biogas digesters in Kenya are either floating drum or fixed dome designs. The floating drum design was first introduced in 1980s and the fixed dome in the 1990s.   Since the 1980s, more than 1000 household size biogas digesters, mainly fed with cattle dung, were constructed to provide gas for cooking and lighting to rural families.  It is estimated that about 30-50% of them are meanwhile out of order (MoE, 2008). To date biogas technology adoption still remains low due to inadequate policy framework.

A look at the history of biogas in Kenya shows some very clear phases of growth and development. In the early 60’s and 70’s it remained an obscure utility experimented by scattered innovators.  From the 80s to early 2000 there was marked awareness of the technology but with minimum uptake. At this time a number of masons, mostly trained by the Ministry of Energy and GIZ began to undertake the utility build as an enterprise.

The main problem facing biogas development is that the sector is unregulated which allows proliferation of contractors who have limited understanding of the technology. The most critical problems in the engineering and maintenance are gas leakages and inadequate feedstock.

The institutions and programmes in the frontline in promoting biogas development in Kenya include  but not limited to Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, GIZ, SNV, ENERGY 4 IMPACT International, Kenya Biogas Programme (part of Africa Biogas Partnership Programme financed by Hivos, National Domestic Biogas programme (KENDBIP), several associations and private companies. UNIDO under the GEF programme, recently launched a 5 year waste to energy development using commercial biogas technology. The scale promoted will be upwards of 100-2000KW of electricity generation.

KBP, of which oversight is provided by National Biogas Steering Committee and Chaired by Ministry of Energy programme is designed to develop a commercially viable and market oriented biogas sector. As part of biogas market development the programme has trained 577 masons on how to construct biogas plants. Out of the 577 trained masons, 82 operate as Biogas Construction Enterprises (BCEs) and 240 are working as sole proprietors. About 200 are most active. This is the team behind the installation of 18,000 units to date. The size varied from 4 m3 to 12 m3.

The expansion of domestic and institutional bio digesters for cooking is notable- with over 20,000 units installed. Progress is also noted in  projects for electricity generation with an estimated installed capacity of  3MW contributed by close to  10 units  the smallest being 20kW and largest 2.2MW. Some plants are for own use, while other intend to sell to the grid. The Feed- in –Tarrif is currently offering US cents 0.1 for projects below 10MW. However, the lengthy process cannot be ignored. It is anticipated that as the sector expands there will be ease of doing biogas business.

KIRDI has set up a laboratory for gas analysis and feedstock grading but still in very nascent stage. JKUAT has also undertaken research in recent years on hyacinth utilization and biogas bottling under the BRIGHT project supported by JICA.

A few research areas at JKUAT include a project with European Community on aquaculture involving conversion of waste water to energy, which is then purified and circulated in fish ponds. Others include biogas production, purification and packaging systems in collaboration with KIPI with a view to bringing it to commercialization.

Can Payment for Environmental Services (PES), acceleration biogas uptakes?

Hivos and IIED conducted a study under the Kenya National Domestic Biogas Programme (KENDBIP) to understand how payments for ecosystem services (PES) might benefit smallholder agriculture. Biodigesters have three climate-friendly impacts: they avoid deforestation, since less fuelwood or charcoal is needed in switching to biogas; they avoid the use of chemical fertilisers, since bioslurry is an effective fertiliser; and bioslurry improves crop productivity. Biogas also has a positive impact on health, especially for women, as a smokeless cooking fuel. Each biodigester qualifies for small amounts of carbon offsets as payments for ecosystem services, since the use of biogas avoids deforestation, protecting the ecosystem services provided by forests (such as reducing atmospheric carbon). These carbon offsets translate into small revenue streams from international sales in carbon markets. Full report here: The Kenya National Domestic Biogas Programme: can carbon financing promote sustainable agriculture?

Floating drum and fixed doom can be regarded as the oldest models being promoted in the Kenyan market. With time different technologies are hitting the market with demand based on raw materials, land/space availability.

For instance in 2010 Carbon Africa tested the Appropriate Rural Technology Institute (ARTI)- India model for 3 pilot plants.  Other models included Kenya Bio Digester Model (KENBIM), CAMARTEC and AKUT models. Today, models from companies like Flexi gas, Ken-tainers, Sim Gas etc.

NITA recently developed and published Assessment Guidelines for Skills Upgrading in Biogas Technology. The Guidelines cover competence and knowledge requirements in materials assessment, design, installation, equipment and machines, bioslurry value addition, and commissioning and testing. This manual is created to be used in technical colleges and polytechnics. The intention is to train artisans and technicians following the Tier system from T1 (for standard 8 and Form leavers) to T3 for diploma and Degree holders. Unlike solar, biogas is yet to develop graded curriculum system for Schools, Colleges and Training institutions. JKUAT is considering starting courses in Biogas technology and has developed a Training Manual and Booklet.

Under a 5 year programme, UNIDO through GEF intends to assist KIRDI to develop capacity for trained commercial biogas designers, operators and installers. Targeting agri-based institutions the programme will undertake piloting, training of staff, set up of knowledge center, biogas laboratory, trainings in feasibility studies, design, construction and maintenance.

The Kenya Biogas Programme with support from Hivos is undertaking trainings for masons by setting up strategic biogas hubs, intermittent clinics and retraining workshops. So far over 100 masons have been trained on installation of fixed dome domestic systems, appliances and operation and maintenance.

The Ministry of Energy is undertaking a pilot programme and has earmarked about 350 units to be installed in various parts of the Country as demonstration plants. The 13 energy centers set up by Ministry of Energy in various counties also have dedicated units for Biogas training.

Kenya Biogas Stakeholders Network (BIO-NET) in collaboration with Research Triangle International is developing a training programme with a view to inducting and mentoring youth in the Biogas sector to develop skills and create employment. This will be carried out under the auspices of Kenya Youth Empowerment and Skills (K-YES) programme.

However capacity building and training in the Biogas sector will remain disjointed and haphazard as long as a proper curriculum is not developed and knowledge acquirement is not mainstreamed in the education system.

Best Practise and Market Development

The biggest challenge to biogas adoption is the high cost of digester installation whether fiber, masonry, plastic or still drums. Domestication and cost reduction is key to market development. KBP is now promoting the MKD design which has reduced the cost of domestic systems by almost 30%. The interlocking block system for dome construction has also helped to bring down the cost of construction materials significantly.  Continued local content development of biogas systems, like the Blue Flame model manufactured by Kentainers Ltd, will most likely continue to bring installation costs down. Other newer designs (with plug and play features) promoted by the likes of Simgas and Rehau are also making rapid inroads into the market.

The following challenges remain bottlenecks to speedy market penetration and technology adoption as identified by a survey carried out by MoEP in 2007  These include the cost factor, unprecedented systems failures and poor maintenance and lack of technology awareness among others.

  • Unsustainable use of biomass with attendant negative impacts on the environment.
  • Widening gap between supply and demand for wood-fuel.
  • A disorganized private sector enterprise engagement
  • Emissions from wood fuel leading to health hazards among users.
  • Weak enforcement of the legal and regulatory framework for sustainable production, distribution and marketing of biomass.
  • vi. Insufficient promotion of sustainable afforestation programmes.
  • Inadequate data on biomass production and consumption.
1 MoEP and GTZ’s Special Energy Programme 400 Project initiated between,1987-1992 which marked the first rigorous intervention to promote biogas by MoEP and GIZ
2 Kenya National Domestic Biogas Programme/Kenya Biogas Programme (KENDBIP) 18,000 – spread in 36 counties Funded by Dutch government, HIVOS acts as the fund manager while SN is the technical partner. MoEP chairs the National Steering Biogas Committee that coordinates the programme.,Phase I, (2009-2013) with Ksh 25,000 subsidy achieved 12,000 against a target of 8,000. Phase II, (2014-2018) without subsidy, has a target of 26,500 biogas plants.
3 MoEP –Energy Centres’ initiated domestic biogas digesters 1,000 An annual average of 50, mainly floating drum types, in addition to on-station demonstration.
4 MoEP- large institutional biogas digesters using cow dung and sewage 6 JKUAT: Production of biogas from human waste for cooking and electricity generation- 385 m3 digester and 45 kW generator on 20:80 diesel: biogas

.Kaimosi Teachers: Vihiga County – Production of biogas for cooking from human waste – 200m3,digester.

UoN (College of Agriculture, Kabete): Production of cooking gas from cow dung – 120 m3.

Mang’u High School,

Isinya Girls,Siana boarding Primary School
5 MoEP and Flower farms -Feasibility study on biogas production from,flower waste 2 Biogas used to generate electricity at –P.J. Dave Flowers Ltd -Isinya -Kajiado County – production of biogas and electricity from flower waste and cow dung –400m3 digester, 100 kW capacity. Generator 100% biogas

Thika-Eureka Holdings-(Simbi roses farm at Gatanga) – production of biogas and electricity from flower waste –200 m3 digester, 55 kW capacity. Generator 100% biogas
6 MoEP and Kenya Prison Service collaboration in biogas programme 14 MoEP have installed 14 biogas plants of 124m3.

Technical recommendations have been offered in 18 other correctional facilities so as to up scale the biogas programme.
7 Tunnel Engineering Company Ltd, Fort Tenan, Kericho 160

(130 small and 30 large digesters)
Constructed first digester in 1957 mainly for organic fertilizer. Promoted biogas technology up to 1986.
8 Sustainable Energy Strategies 750 A Carbon credit registered project within the Nairobi River Basin.
9 Takamoto Ltd. 100 – Kiambu County Promoting portable digesters in Githunguri, Kiambu County
10 Taita Biogas Ltd. 400 Based in Taita Taveta County installing domestic digesters, but installed a 36 m3 digester at St. Mary’s High School, saving 50% of firewood.
11 Afrisol 140 – (120 domestic and 20 institutional) Constructed a 372m3 digester near Chaka, Nyeri County, with a power capacity of 60kW, for own use.
12 Gorge Farm – Biojoule 1 Utilizes agro wastes to produce 2.2 MW (2 MW to the grid, 0.2kW farm operations). Due for connection to the national grid.
13 Olivado Company Ltd. 1 340kW system utilizing avocado waste after oil extraction in Sagana.
14 Pine power ltd. 1 150kW digester at Kilifi using sisal waste and cow dung
15 James Finlay Ltd. 1 160kW power generated from flower and tea wastes
16 Slaughter house waste 2 30kW at Nyongara Dagoretti measuring 50m3.

248m3 Keekonyoike in Kiserian now planning to package the biogas. The process produces biogas, which is
piped to a 200m3 biogas storage
facility, as well as slurry which can be used as organic fertiliser. The plant currently produces 600m3 of biogas per day which runs a 20KW generator for local electricity consumption. The
abattoir generates about 20 metric tonnes of waste.
Calculated benefits on a proposed 350 Units MOEP initiative
Firewood saving: According to a study conducted in Kiambu County (Muriuiki S.W., 2014) an average homestead saved 1,519.2 Kg of fire wood and 1,
147.2 kg of charcoal annually upon embracing biogas technology. Considering charcoal recovery rate of 1kg to 10 kg of firewood (Muller et al, 2011), 1,147.2 kg of charcoal requires 11, 472kg of firewood. Therefore, the total firewood saved in one household per annum is 12,991.2 kg (approximately 13 metric tons) due to biogas installation.,The 350 households will save a total of 4,550 metric tons of firewood upon embracing biogas technology.
Monetary value of,saved firewood: The amount of firewood that would have,been used without biogas, according to the analysis in (i) above is,equivalent to 13 metric tons. On average, one metric ton of firewood sells at,Ksh 2,000, thus making a total annual saving of Ksh 26,000 per,household.,This translates to Ksh 9.1,million at the end of the initial promotion phase, with 350 digesters,installed.
Emission avoidance: Firewood has emission coefficients of 1,536g/kg (Bailis, 2003 and,Smith et al., 2000), thus a,household using biogas will result to annual emission reduction of 19.96,tonsCO2 equivalent (from 12,991.2 kg of firewood computed in [i],above). The country, therefore, will reduce emission in the tune of 6,986,tonsCO2 equivalent by the end of the year.
Employment,generated: Construction of a digester involves 20,man-days of both skilled and semi-skilled labour. Therefore, 350 digesters,would result to 7,000 days of both categories of workers earning Ksh 70,000,and Ksh 35,000 respectively. In addition, excavation work would cost Ksh,5,000 per digester translating to a total income of Ksh1, 750,000 to the,youth in the target areas.,The biogas,cookstoves makers would also rake in Ksh 5,500 per double burner biogas,stove, thus making a combined income of Ksh 1, 925,000.
Organic fertilizer: A 10m3 digester has a daily bio-slurry outflow of 160 liters, which provides a rich source of macro nutrients compared to commercial inorganic fertilizer and fresh manure, as shown below;

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