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Biomass cogeneration in Kenya

Cummins Cogeneration Kenya has been involved in the Marigat project in the Baringo County of Kenya, which will generate 12 MW by making use of the invasive Prosopis Juliflora plant as feedstock. It is one of the biomass cogeneration projects in Kenya seen to be having positive impacts in the country.

There has been an increase in the demand for electricity in recent years, however, capacity typically falls short of this need. Cummins Cogeneration Kenya managing director Yash Krishna notes that there are multiple solutions for this problem, including cogeneration.

“Over the next three years, Cummins Cogeneration Kenya (CK) plans to develop significant megawatts of new capacity by using different types of biomass. Due to a lack of grid infrastructure, we typically see power generated through the use of diesel and solar installations for rural electrification in Africa, however this is expensive and does not benefit the local communities.”

Krishna points out that a plant can be established where it is possible to align the availability of biomass with power consumption. He adds that Kenya has one of the most well-established power sectors in sub-Saharan Africa, however, there are shortages in power supply. “Current sources of power supply for the country include; hydro power, thermal sources, geothermal energy, and more recently crude oil. Biomass cogeneration could play a notable role in Kenya’s energy future.”

He argues that biomass based power generation is the only form of power generation which creates a large socio-economic impact, as the fuel is harvested and acquired from the nearby area. The gasification technology from Cummins CK is able to utilise a variety of combustible biomass, including; argo-waste, argo-residue, woody biomass, invasive species, household waste, as well as rubber and coal. Krishna states that biomass cogeneration technology has vastly improved in recent years thanks to improvements in gas purification. This has in turn lowered maintenance requirements. “As with other forms of power generation, it is expected that capital costs will decrease and efficiency will continue to improve.”

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