High cost of fuel pushes more consumers to embrace cheap and clean energy from biogas
Posted Wednesday, June 13 2012 at 20:43
Engineer Peter Gichohi, an alternative energy expert with Bio Power Systems, is currently running tests on a large commercial unit which not only uses cow dung but also human waste at Mang’u High School.
The gas produced is converted into electricity and used to power a machine that pumps water into tanks which serves the schools over 800 students.
“The potential is enormous,” said Mr Gichohi, who specialises on setting up large commercial systems, adding that anything that is decomposing can be used to make energy that can be used not only for domestic use, but also to make electricity that can be used to run large machines.
One of his successful prior projects is an energy unit that his company designed and constructed for North Kinangop Catholic Hospital which was in 1998 facing closure from the health authorities for discharging effluent into the surrounding environment.
The energy plant that is still in use to this day that is able to convert effluent that has 100 per cent traces of faecal contamination, to water that has no trace of the contamination and in the process the hospital uses the energy produced saving almost 40 per cent of its energy costs.
“This is what every water treatment project is aiming to achieve but the difference is, we get a benefit from it. When you see sewage, what is the use of covering your nose? You should be able to get energy from it,” he said.
Other large medium sized and large institutions that are using biogas units include Baraka Agricultural College in Molo, Egerton University, Tumaini School, Starehe Girls' Centre, Nakuru Boys' High School, Meru Prison and Tania School.
Also 2008, the European Union, Swedish International Development and Cooperation Agency and GTZ provided funding for a public toilet with biogas plant and water kiosk at the Naivasha bus parking bay where the energy produced is used to cook snacks and tea in adjacent cafes.
The increase in the use of alternative source of energy in the country has the potential of earning the country carbon credits as green house gas emissions are reduced
“The process of mobilizing the carbon revenues has already started. Carbon revenues will come from the individual use of the biodigesters and the same individual farmers benefit from the subsidy by access the biodigesters at a lower cost,” said Jean Marc, fund manager, ABPP which is running the KENDBIP programme.
ABPP is targeting at least 3,500 biogas units this year has already seen installed 1,144 units while 2,399 biogas units were built against a target of 2,200 last year riding on a strong established dairy sector.
Central province leads with 41 per cent of all digesters installed followed by Rift valley with 37 per cent, Eastern 10 per cent while Western, Nyanza, Nairobi and Coast share the balance.
The exceeding targets indicate the high demand for cheaper alternative sources of energy locally which also reduces the rate at which trees are cut, in turn helping in its own small way to slow down climate changes which are being caused by a reduced tree cover and increased emissions of greenhouse gases.
Mr Marc said that ABPP has installed 3,147 units in Tanzania, 3,040 in Ethiopia, 2,258 in Uganda, 2,101 in Rwanda, 1043 in Burkina Faso and a total of 451 in Senegal, Cameroon and Benin.