Biogas first in Kenya

Jun 18, 2013 12:00 AM

A major deal has been clinched between a leading UK-based engine service provider and a Kenyan developer of biogas and solar plants.


Tropical Power, a developer of biogasand solar plants in Africa, has signed a deal with UK-based Clarke Energy to supply the first two containerised Jenbacher biogas engines in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The units will be supplied to an agricultural biogas plant located at a farm near Lake Naivasha, in Kenya.

Anaerobic digestion is an established technology in Europe and Asia for the treatment of biodegradable wastes and for the production of renewable power, though there are few examples of large commercial anaerobic digestion facilities in Africa.  

This first for engine service provider Clarke Energy, which is an authorised distributor and service provider for GE Power & Water’s gas engine business, demonstrates the ability of this technology to provide continuous reliable and sustainable power on the African continent.

James Hobday, Clarke Energy’s new Business Development Manager for Africa, said: “We are delighted to be supplying gas engines to our first biogas project in Sub-Saharan Africa.  This project demonstrates the viability of biogas as a power source in Africa to deliver significant supplies of power to the region.”

Mike Nolan, Operations Director at Tropical Power, has significant experience of power generation in Africa and he sees great potential for biogas to help power in the African continent – especially when used in combination with solar power.

Nolan said:  “We selected Clarke Energy to supply these biogas engines on the basis of their experience of operating in Sub-Saharan Africa, along with a technical solution that offered high electrical efficiency and robust performance using biogas at high altitude.”

Biogas will be produced from an agricultural anaerobic digester processing wastes to give power and fertilizer.

It will allow 2.4MW of renewable electricity to be produced in rural Kenya providing power to the local farm and surrounding area, enough to power 5-6,000 typical homes.

The engines will operate in a combined heat and power(CHP) configuration increasing the overall plant efficiency, through the recovery of heat which will displace diesel normally used in the heating of greenhouses at the farm.

The anaerobic digestion facility will produce biogas, originating from the digestion of food processing wastes coming from the surrounding farms.  The technology used in the biogas plant’s design is a novel, advanced technology licensed from Germany.

Clarke Energy is contracted for a turnkey project to supply, engineer and install the CHP generators.  The biogas will be fed into 2 x J420 Jenbacher gas enginesfrom GE Power & Water.  The engines are specially configured to operate at the high altitude of the project at nearly 2,000 metres above sea level.  

The gas engines will be configured for cogeneration, with surplus heat recovered as hot water and used for biogas plant process heating and for heating adjacent greenhouses.  

The biogas engines will be supplied as containerised units for operation in hot and tropical countries.  Containerisation facilitates the ready ‘plug-and-play’ deployment of the units.

Economic development in Kenya leads to strains on the local power distribution network.  Creation of biogas using waste materials will deliver the reliable production of fuel.

In turn, using this gas in the Jenbacher gas engine will facilitate consistent supplies of power to the local area.  Surplus power will be supplied to the local electricity grid, helping to stabilise local electricity supplies.

Reliable power helps to ensure consistent business operations and hence is a driver for economic growth and performance.

Following the success of its Nigerian business, Clarke Energy established an East African base in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in 2012.

Clarke Energy will provide support to Tropical Power, training operators with gas engine operation and maintenance.  The more demanding maintenance procedures will be supported by Clarke Energy’s East African service hub.

The biogas engines are scheduled for delivery to Kenya in the last quarter of 2013.

The project will be delivered using a combination of European technology and local content originating from local suppliers and operated by Kenyan nationals.

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