Kenyan commercial farm, Gorge Farm Energy Park, has become Africa’s first electricity producer powered by biogas to sell surplus electricity to the national grid.The Gorge Farm Energy Park, located in Naivasha, produces 2MW of electricity, which is more than enough to cultivate its 706 hectares of vegetables and flowers.
According to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the electricity produced is enough to power up to 5,000-6,000 rural homes.
Not only is the farm a producer of power, but it produces sufficient heat for the farm’s greenhouses, with fertilizer as a by-product.
Gorge Farm, approximately 76km northwest of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, is owned by the Vegpro Group, media reported.
In 2016, Biojoule Kenya, the independent power producer that operates the plant, signed an agreement to sell electricity to the country's power distributor, Kenya Power & Lighting Company (KPLC).
It is reported that the IPP sells the power to Gorge Farm and to KPLC for $0.10/kWh.
“The Gorge Farm plant is physical proof that locally produced feedstock can be used to generate clean and cost-effective power for all Kenyans,” chief operating officer at Tropical Power, a developer of biogas and solar plants in Africa, Mike Nolan, noted.
The plant produces biogas through anaerobic digestion, a process in which crop residue from the farm is digested by micro-organisms.
The biogas produced is burned in two engines, producing both electricity and heat in a process called cogeneration.
Tropical Power said the biogas plant offsets nearly 8,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year, since the farm does not have to use electricity from the grid produced by oil-fired power stations, media reported.
Helen Osiolo, a policy analyst at the Kenya Institute of Public Policy Research and Analysis also commented: “The potential for biogas generated electricity in Kenya is significant.”
Osiolo continued: “There are concerns that the tariff is too low to attract substantive investor interest. In addition, agricultural and municipal waste is in demand for other uses such as fertilizer, which may limit the expansion of biogas generation."