Biomass Energy

Biomass Sector

  • Biomass from wood sources accounts for over 70% of the primary, non-electricity, non-transport energy demand for Kenya.
  • According to the UNFCCC, Kenya’s biomass fuel is calculated to be 92% non-renewable. In part this can be attributed to the increasing demand for biomass fuel from an increasing population: the population of Kenya increased by 9 million from 28.7 million in 1999 to 37.7 million in 2009.
  • This increase, coupled with the unsustainable use of forest resources, exacerbates the problem of managing Kenya’s growing emissions profile. In fact, Kenya’s wood deficit is projected to increase from 10 million m3 to at least 15 million m3 per year by 2030.
  • For example, a national study on charcoal in Kenya by ESDA (2005) estimated that annual production was 1.6 million tons. Production has since risen to 2.5 million tons, an increase of 156% within eight years (or almost 20% growth per annum).

Bioenergy generation and regeneration using modern technology as well as management is critical to ensuring sustainability of supply to meet the growing demand. The continued overreliance on bioenergy as the primary source of energy and the lack of commensurate effort in developing the resource threatens achievement of the 10% constitutional requirement for forest cover.

The National Demand of Forest Products (m3) National Demand

POPULATION PER CAPITA 0.1262 0.0338 0.4485 0.3915 1
41,700,664 5,262,624 1,409,482 18,702,748 16,325,810 41,700,664
Total National Demand (m3) 5,262,624 1,409,482 18,702,748 16,325,810 41,700,664

[Source: Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources; Analysis of Demand and Supply of Wood Products in Kenya Study 2013]

Managing role of biomass

  • Biomass fuels are the most important source of primary energy in Kenya with wood fuel (firewood and charcoal) accounting for 68 % of the total primary energy consumption. About 55% of this is derived from farmlands of woody biomass as well as crop residue, animal waste and the remaining 45% is from forests.
  • In spite of past efforts to promote wood fuel substitutes, the number of people relying on wood fuel is not decreasing. Consequently, wood fuel will continue to be the primary source of energy for the majority of the rural population and urban poor for as long as it takes to transform the rural economy from subsistence to a highly productive economy.


  • Over 82% of the urban population in Kenya and 34% of rural households use charcoal a demand is increasing. The sector has an estimated value of KES 80 Billion (FAOSTAT) with livelihood support of about 2.5Million Kenyans (ESDA, 2005).
  • National charcoal supply is estimated at 7 million m3  while demand is estimated at 16 million m3 at a per capita of 0.3915, this leaves a supply gap of close to 9 million m3
  • To manage the supply gap, it’s important to have sustainable charcoal production practices like efficient wood to charcoal conversion technologies and encourage on farm plantation. On demand side, there is need to adopt fuel-efficient stoves and cooking practices that minimize fuel use like covering pots while cooking to retain heat.

Some sustainable charcoal production initiatives include

  • Training of charcoal producer groups on Charcoal Regulations 2009,
  • Introduction and creating awareness on efficient conversion technologies
  • Counties are also developing charcoal/environment legislation  like Kitui, Narok  , Kajiado etc
  • Exploring use of invasive species like Prosopis Juliflora in Baringo county by KEFRI and other stakeholders.

Some improved kilns:

Half Orange kiln Metal Kiln
kilns kilns
Adam retort Drum Kiln
AdamRetort DrumKiln

Photos courtesy: KEFRI

Briquettes and pellets

  • Kenya’s Draft Strategy and Action Plan for Bioenergy and LPG (MoE&P 2015) aspires to “mainstream” briquettes and pellets as viable alternative fuels for residential and industrial end-uses. The strategy proposes to develop quality control and standards, provide technology transfer, and incentivize business and technical development services for domestic briquette and pellet enterprises.
  • Biomass briquettes can offer an alternative fuel for many of these applications. Biomass briquettes are a form of solid fuel that can be burned for energy. They are created by compacting loose biomass residues into solid blocks for domestic and institutional cooking and industrial heating processes. Briquettes can be made from biomass residuals such as charcoal dust (which is waste from the production process), coffee husks, coconut husks, maize cobs and sawdust amongst others. Briquettes have the potential to be a source of renewable energy, if they are made from sustainably harvested biomass or agricultural residues.
  • There are several initiatives and studies that are being undertaken by stakeholders to promote briquette. Innovator are also coming up with machines for making briquettes.

Some projects & studies

Project/Implementer Description
Scaling-Up Briquette Commercialization In Kenya. Practical Action, ETC Foundation, EEP. 2013-2015 Project was to increase accessibility to briquettes as alternative affordable cooking fuel to at least 40,000 consumers in Mombasa, Nairobi, Nakuru and Kisumu counties leading to re-use of waste biomass. Over 77.2 tonnes of fuel briquettes were produced and sold which is equivalent to over 231.6 tonnes of lamp charcoal hence avoiding over 2084.4 tonnes of CO2 emission from being released to the atmosphere. 4604 units of improved Cookstoves were sold with over 6000 domestic consumers (households), 106 institutions (schools & children’s homes), 183 restaurants (food vendors, eateries), and 65 others (hatcheries, individuals) benefiting from use of fuel briquettes to meet their energy needs.
SNV- 2013 Improved Charcoaling Technologies and Briquetting using Agricultural Waste .West Pokot and Uasin Gishu Counties
Middlesex University, Kenyatta University, Terra Nuova Fuel from Waste Network , Nairobi, 2012

Study & Reports

Project/Implementer Description
Kenya Briquette Industry Study, 2010 GVEP (now Energy4Impact) under Developing Energy Enterprises Programme(2008-2013) The study was to understand the current and potential impact of micro-scale briquette producers on rural and peri-urban energy access. Study areas were Ranen in Nyanza, Mariakani in Coast, Nairobi and Nyeri.
Capital Access for Renewable Energy Enterprises Project by SIDA and Energy4Impact( formely GVEP) Assessment of the Briquette Market in Kenya 2013: This study assessed 35 enterprises; key findings were briquette sector can be promoted by building technical capacity and having focused market development activities.


  • Farm residue is used to supplement scarce wood energy required for domestic needs.
  • In year 2000, sources of biomass residue in Kenya included;
    • maize 1.6 million tons/yr., Sorghum 76,000 tons/yr., wheat 42,000 tons/yr., millet 46,000 tons/yr., beans 77,000 tons/yr., rice 1,000 tons/yr., cassava 12,000 tons/yr., coconut 6 tons/yr., cashew nut 2tons/yr., coffee 300,000 tons/yr., tea 60,000 tons/yr. and sisal 8,000 tons/yr. (Biomass Energy Resources in Kenya, 2012).
  • Wood waste is mainly used in urban areas by 3.7% of households as compared to 2.1% in the rural areas. The consumption is about 15,600 tons equivalent to 23,088m3 (1.48m3/ton), estimated from industrial by-product production (sawdust, timber rejects, off-cuts etc.) (Gender, Improved Cook Stoves and Development in Kenya, 2010)


Though briquettes have gained traction in some niche markets, there has been little development of pellet fuels in Kenya, particularly for the household market. Pellets burn cleanly especially when they are used with advanced forced-draft stoves. Pellets are manufactured under high pressure, they are denser than briquettes – with lower moisture and ash content – and they can be economically transported over longer distances. However, pellet businesses face several obstacles. For example, pellet production requires higher capital investment. In addition, for household use, pellets require specialized stoves, while briquettes can be used in common stoves like the Kenya Ceramic Jiko, or KCJ. These barriers may explain why few pellet projects have been implemented in Kenya to date. Nevertheless, as household energy becomes more commercialized and Kenyan consumers become more comfortable with advanced stoves, there may be a place for pellets in the Kenyan market.

Some pellet projects

Project/Implementer Description
SNV- 2014-2016 SNV implemented a project to increase access to and use of clean and efficient forced draft pellet stoves in urban and peri-urban markets. It covered Nakuru, Nyeri, Nyandarua and Kisumu. About 1,500 stoves were sold along with roughly 10 tonnes of pellets. Through a market based approach
ECOZOOM, GACC Ecozoom implemented the project in Kisumu and Siaya counties in Western Kenya. Working with a network of Community Health Volunteers, they recruited 85 households in Mamboleo, Nyalenda, and Karapul, representing peri-urban, urban informal, and rural settlements respectively

Quality Control

Kenya is yet to develop a guideline on the quality of pellets that can be produced within the country. However, European Standard parameters threshold include:

Parameter Classification
Size (D – diameter and L – length) (mm) D06: D ≤ 6 ± 0.5 and L ≤ 5D
D08: D ≤ 8 ± 0.5 and L ≤ 4D
Moisture content (%) M10: ≤ 10%
Ash content (%) A0.7: ≤ 0.7%
N (%) No guideline is included
S (%) S0.05: ≤ 0.05%
Cl (%) No guideline is included
Durability DU97.5: ≥ 97.5%
Fines content (% < 3.15 mm) F1.0: ≤ 1%
F2.0: ≤ 2%
Bulk density (kg/m3) No guideline is included
Heating value (kcal/kg) E4.7: ≥4.7 kWh/kg = 4042 kcal/kg
Additives < 2%

Advantages of Briquettes and Pellets

  1. Using briquettes and pellets for electricity generation makes business sense
  2. Briquettes and pellets use enhance environmental protection
  3. Briquette and pellets business offers communities in Kenya opportunities for economic empowerment
  4. Briquettes and pellets offer a plausible alternative household energy solution to solid wood fuel
  5. There is need to ensure quality of the products in the Kenyan market
  6. With sufficient business and technical services support, the briquette and pellets for energy sector in Kenya will scale up (source; Bioenergy- Briquette and Pellet Strategy; MOEP and CCAK)

Biomass for electricity generation

  • A private company Tower Power had expressed interest to set up a 250 MW biomass based power plant in Baringo County to utilize the invasive species tree Prosopis Juliflora.
  • The FiT policy provides for biomass energy resource generated electricity with a firm power fixed tariff not exceeding US Cents 10 per Kilowatt-hour of electrical energy supplied in bulk to the grid operator at the interconnection point. Under this policy, 18MW cogeneration project for use of cane bagasse at the coastal region of Kenya has been approved
  • The Government has identified the existence of a substantial potential for power generation using forestry and agro-industry residues including bagasse. The total potential for cogeneration using sugarcane bagasse is 193MW.
  • Mumias Sugar Company (Independent Power Producer) generates 35MW out of which 26MW is dispatched to the grid. However, opportunities within other sugar factories estimated to be up to 300 MW have not been exploited.
  • A private company Tower Power had expressed interest to set up a 250 MW biomass based power plant in Baringo County to utilize the invasive species tree Prosopis Juliflora.

Cooking Technologies

Biomass use for domestic, institutional and industrial use continues to provide a large percentage of energy needs.  At a domestic level an average household is estimated to consume 9kg of biomass per day. At an industrial level, for instance a medium tea factory biomass requirement is estimated at 20 tonnes per day.


There are approximately 70, 000 institutions including prisons, learning institutions hospitals, hotels and restaurants in Kenya each consuming about 270 tonnes of wood fuel per year; and majority of the small and medium enterprises such as hotels, food vendors and small scale processing facilities use biomass as the primary source of energy. There are over 90 tea factories in Kenya consuming an average of 10,900m3 of wood fuel per year; about 550,000tons of fuel wood per year.

Institutions like adopting fuel efficient stoves as industries make efforts to obtain boiler with better fuel usage. The search for alternatives like briquette for industries is evident while other like KTDA(Kenya Tea Development Authority)  are developing micro hydro initiatives.


There are several biomass technologies in market today. The technologies range from those which burn solid biomass directly into heat to those convert biomass into liquid or gaseous fuels before burning them into heat.

By 2013, the Kenya Country Action Plan the estimates were that 3.2 million households were accessing improved cookstoves. MOEP and stakeholders target is to reach 5 million Kenyan households and institutions with improved cookstoves for cooking and heating applications by 2020.

  • The private sector, development partners and government is making efforts in stove manufacturing; distribution, creating awareness, facilitating financing and more so ensuring a market –based approach is adopted in the cook-stove sector.
  • The sector is estimated to create 3,000 direct local manufacturing jobs with 300,000 stoves sold in a year
  •  CCAK (Clean Cook-stoves Association of Kenya) estimated that under VAT zero rated regime, cookstoves worth 1.7 million shillings will be sold from 2017-2020. This is an equivalent of 3.4 million trees saved per year from 2017-2020. The equivalent consumer savings on fuel will stand at 53 billion shillings (2017-2020) which can be spent on other sectors of the economy while 5 million metric tonnes of carbon will be saved (2017-2020).
  • Only 37.2% of Kenyans cook with clean and efficient stoves.
  • Kenya‘s Green House Emissions can be reduced by the adoption of Clean and Efficient Stoves i.e. 1 Stove Saves over 3 Tonnes of Carbon per Year.
  • Clean cookstoves save over 50% in fuel consumption. An average household will save 13,000 shillings annually. Savings will increase under favourable policy due to increased adoption
  • Government targets 100% access to clean and efficiency stoves by 2030

Some private sector dealing with cookstoves include;
Ecozoom, Envirofit; Improved Stoves Association of Kenya(ISAK), Biolite, Burn Manufacturing; SCODE- Nakuru;

Cooking Technologies


KCJ – Ceramic Small, Medium, Large KEYO, SCODE, Energy4Impact, ISAK, Jua Kali
KCJ Ranen Small KEYO
KCJ Vermiculine & Clay Medium KEYO
KCJ – Sawdust & Clay Medium KEYO
KCJ SCODE (Modified) Medium SCODE
KCJ with Skirt Small SCODE/ Energy4Impact
Keyo Uhai Medium KEYO/ Energy4Impact
Traditional Metal Stove Various Various
Energy4Impact Rocket Prototype Stove Medium Energy4Impact
Energy4Impact Rocket Prototype Stove – MURANGA Medium Energy4Impact
Energy4Impact Prototype I Medium Energy4Impact
KCJ without skirt (2.5 Ltr.) Small Various
Traditional Metal Stove (2.5 Ltr.) Small Various


SCODE Mazingira (Wood) Medium SCODE
SCODE Multipurpose with Pot Skirt (Wood) Medium SCODE
SCODE Multipurpose without Pot Skirt (Wood) Medium SCODE
Multipurpose Stove with water jacket (Wood) Medium
Energy4Impact Prototype 2(Wood) Medium Energy4Impact
Energy4Impact Prototype 2 (Charcoal) Medium Energy4Impact
SCODE KM Multipurpose (Wood) Medium SCODE
SCODE KM Multipurpose (Charcoal) Medium SCODE
SCODE Multipurpose with pot skirt (Charcoal) Medium SCODE
SCODE Multipurpose without pot skirt (Charcoal) Medium SCODE
Multipurpose stove with water jacket (Charcoal) Medium


Kuni Mbili Large N/A
Keyo Kuni Mbili Medium Keyo
Jiko Poa with skirt Medium N/A
Jiko Poa – (red) Medium N/A
Gasifier Medium Various
Baker Stove Medium Jonathan Baker
Carbon Zero Stove (CZK) Medium Carbon Zero Kenya
Energy4Impact Rocket Wood Stove Medium Energy4Impact
Jiko Chap Chap – Single Pot Medium Jonathan Baker
Jiko Chap Chap – Double Pot Medium Jonathan Baker
CZKA Stove Medium Energy4Impact
Institutional Stove Large Energy4Impact
Kuni Mbili Stove (7 Ltr) Large Keyo
3 stone fire Various N/A
Energy4Impact Rocket Wood Stove – MURANGA Medium Energy4Impact
Energy4Impact Rocket Wood Stove – KISUMU Medium Energy4Impact
VC-1 (Vermiculite + Clay) Medium Narumoru
VC – 2 (Vermiculite + Clay) Medium Narumoru
VC – 3 (Vermiculite + Clay) Medium Narumoru
Carbon Zero Kuni Mbili Medium Cameroon

Policy and Regulatory Framework

A number of policy and legal framework exists to promote the biomass sector as listed. The Government has come up with fiscal incentives such as reduction of import duty on biomass stoves in 2016; VAT exemption for all efficient stoves (including biomass stoves) in 2016.

Key laws and policy frameworks relevant to biomass sector

Law or policy framework Details
Charcoal Regulations 2009, under Forestry Act

(Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife 2009)

  • Provides guidelines on the legal requirements for producers, transporters and traders engaged in the charcoal business.
  • Encourages producers to form groups and develop harvesting and afforestation plans.
  • Recommends use of efficient conversion technologies and protection of endangered species.
  • Requires permits from the relevant authorities for the movement and export of charcoal.
National Environment Policy 2014

(Government of Kenya 2014b)

  • Promotes integrated national strategy for generation and sustainable utilization of renewable energy, including biomass.
  • Encourages development and implementation of appropriate forestry-based investment programmes and projects.
Environmental Management and Coordination Act 1999

(Government of Kenya 1999)

  • Requires large-scale projects, including those for biomass, to undergo an environmental impact assessment prior to approval.
  • Promotes creation of incentives for promotion and conservation of renewable sources of energy.
Agricultural Sector Development Strategy 2010–2020

(Government of Kenya 2010)

  • Supports transformation of subsistence agriculture into commercial and profitable business enterprises.
  • Promotes private investment in modern farming methods.
  • Encourages commercial tree-growing by any farmer, cooperative, company or association as a business enterprise, including for energy.
Traffic Act

(Government of Kenya 2014a)

  • Consolidates laws relating to traffic on public roads, which need to be observed during charcoal transportation.
  • Requires police officers to verify the validity of all charcoal movement permits.
Energy Bill 2015

(Government of Kenya 2015a)

  • Promotes development and use of renewable energy technologies, including biomass.
  • Provides enabling framework for efficient and sustainable production, distribution and marketing of biomass and charcoal.
  • Promotes the use of fast-maturing trees for energy production, including biofuels, and the establishment of commercial woodlots, including peri-urban plantations.
Draft Forest Policy 2015

(Government of Kenya 2015b)

  • Supports production of charcoal in a sustainable manner.
  • Supports community forest management approaches to manage dryland forests for the sustainable production of wood and non-wood forest products.
Draft National Energy Policy 2015

(Government of Kenya 2015c)

  • Promotes efficient conversion and cleaner utilization of biomass energy.
  • Promotes agroforestry and social forestry programmes to increase stock of woody biomass on farms.
Improved Biomass Cookstoves regulations
  • The Improved Biomass Cookstoves regulations, meanwhile, provide for licensing of cookstove manufacturers, importers, distributors and contractors in order to ensure that specifications for thermal efficiency, emissions, safety and durability are met.


The following standards have been put in place to guide on production of quality biomass stoves and better selection of biomass resources:

  • Kenya Standard (KS ISO 17225-1:2014) determines the fuel quality classes and specifications for solid biofuels of raw and processed materials originating from forestry, ranging from graded wood and non-woody pellets, briquette, chips and firewood.
  • The Sustainability Criteria for Bioenergy (KS ISO 13065:2015) specify principles, criteria and indicators for the bioenergy supply chain to facilitate assessment of environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainability.
  • KS 1841-1:2014 Biomass stoves – Performance requirements and test methods – Part 1: Household biomass stoves aims to control the quality of household biomass stoves being marketed in the country; to increase the use as energy-saving biomass stoves; to conserve forests and protect the environment through sustainable use; to improve the living standards and health of stove users;


This section below highlights important facts about projects in the biomass industry that are either in planning phase, ongoing or complete. The tables below will be updated periodically to keep up with the changes in the various projects. In addition, the tables clearly indicate the type project owner/developer so as to make a distinction between government and private investment.

Project / Implementer Description
EnDev Kenya programme by GIZ and SNV and MOEP


EnDev Kenya promotes sustainable production, marketing, installation and use of two types of cooking stoves, i.e. Jiko Kisasa and Rocket Stoves. Made of locally available materials, these stoves use wood fuel.By June 2016, 2.1 stoves were in use with over 3000 stove trainers and artisans. Over 1.5 million tons of firewood saved per year equivalent to 80,000 ha of primary forest land. Approximately 1.6 million tons of CO2 reduced per year. 1,348 social institutions (schools, churches, hospitals etc.). 792 SMES
Standards and Labelling


The project have developed Standards and Labelling Strategy for clean cooking sector in Kenya. With an aim of:Testing products to better understand their performance and to improve confidence among consumers and investors; Establishing performance criteria for efficiency, emissions, and safety to set a benchmark for manufacturers to meet, based on comprehensive market data; Conveying information to producers, consumers, distributors, and retailers, and program implementers through labels and public awareness campaigns, to increase awareness of the benefits of clean and efficient cookstoves.

Development of communication strategy for clean cooking in Kenya

The project aims to develop a communication strategy on behaviour change and also conduct nationwide BCC campaigns.




Under the Developing a Sustainable Cookstove Sector (DSCS) project, KUSCCO launched the Jiko Safi Fund in April to lend to SACCOs for cook stove purchases. 13,000 improved cookstoves sold by KUSCCO’s SACCO network. Over 170,000 USD was lend to distributors and end users.

The Ecomoto Loan began as a partnership between Equity Group Foundation and Micro Energy Credits (MEC). With support from DSCS the program scaled to include the network of 30,000 Equity Agents. 11,500 improved cookstoves sold (cash and loan sales combined).More than 100,000 USD in credit for cook stove purchases provided

MESPT launched its cook stove lending program in partnership with DSCS in 2014. It aimed at providing working capital financing for cook stove distribution companies and micro-finance institutions interested in distributing improved cookstoves (both wood and charcoal stoves).

4,000 improved cookstoves sold (cash and loan sales combined)

– More than 125,000 USD in loans for cook stove purchases provided



Voice of Change Partnership

By focusing on advocacy for an enabling environment, the programme ensure that the interests of low-income and marginalised communities are embedded in government and business policies and practices
Results Based Project for Clean Cookstoves in Kenya This is a 4.5 year results based funding project started in 2014. The project provides results based incentives to private sector (financial institutions, cookstove manufacturers and distributors) to mitigate entry and market development barriers affecting distribution of stoves. The stoves eligible for RBF incentives are stoves that achieve a minimum ISO IWA Tier 2 on efficiency, total emissions and safety. To date, eight stoves have qualified for admission to the project with 15 private sector participating in the project.
WWF- Clean Energy Village Initiative In Kwale county 90 households spread out in the three villages have acquired improved cookstoves.3 schools) have benefitted from institutional cookstoves. Capacity building: Over 200 community members have been sensitized on energy and energy technologies. In Nakuru County, women sell and install cookstove liners. 283 liners have been sold and 190 liners installed in households in the first half of 2017. Since the project inception, 1,977 households have adopted energy saving cook stoves, 2 institutional stoves installed, 2,000 tree seedlings planted, 25 local women groups trained as TOTs on how to design and install cookstoves. 11 woodlots established in public schools and 7 homesteads have established woodlots. 1810 pupils’ awareness on environmental conservation and use of energy saving stoves enhanced.

Case study

The cookstove sector is improving lives, as explained by Livelyhood Limited a social enterprise based in Nairobi mostly working in informal settlements.

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