Nairobi County has awarded a Germany-based energy firm rights to set up a Sh28 billion plant that will use garbage to produce 70 megawatts of electricity per hour.
Governor Evans Kidero inked the deal with the Sustainable Energy Management UG (SEM) on Thursday setting the stage for generation of renewable energy by 2016.
“The project offers numerous opportunities and benefits to Nairobi and will ensure a clean environment, clean energy and local employment in the county,” Dr Kidero said during the signing of a memorandum of understanding in Nairobi.
He said that the construction of the energy plant eliminates the need to relocate the Dandora dumpsite as had earlier been planned by City Hall.
The solid waste dumped at the site will be used to produce methane gas, a key component in the production of renewable energy, he said.
The deal will see another Germany-based firm, International Development and Consulting GmbH, collect and separate waste at the 30-acre Dandora dumpsite.
SEM said the project would create about 250 jobs directly and a further 1, 000 through spin-offs.
“Besides cleaning the environment, we are going to create jobs and produce additional energy to the power grid,” SEM managing partner Frank Masuhr said.
The energy produced will either be sold to Kenya Power for distribution or large independent users such as factories.
The energy regulator has fixed the feed-in-tariff for biomass and biogas at $0.10 per kWh.
It is estimated that 850 tonnes, out of the 2,500 tonnes of solid waste generated in Nairobi, are deposited at the Dandora dumpsite daily.
This is despite the fact that the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) declared the dumpsite full in 2011. Nema has lauded the initiative, saying it will help reverse environmental issues associated with dumpsites.
“We will give the project all the necessary support to ensure its smooth implementation,” said Ayub Macharia, Nema’s director for Environment Education, Information and Public Participation, in an interview.
The plant will use about 1,000 tonnes of waste per day coming as a relief to Dandora residents who have to contend with heaps of waste that pose health hazards such as respiratory and skin diseases.
General Electric, Etech Miljo and MGM International were other firms interested in the contract. Kenya Generating Company (KenGen) was also interested in setting up a similar plant at Sh9 billion.
SEM said it was undertaking a similar project in Lagos, Nigeria. Upon completion in the next two years, the project will see Kenya join the league of African countries which supplement grid power with energy from garbage.
South Africa was the first country on the continent to tap into electricity generation from waste following a deal with US-based General Electric. The project generates six megawatts of power per hour.
Energy from garbage
Earlier plans had indicated that the Dandora dumpsite would be moved to Mavoko in Machakos County on a 120-acre parcel of land acquired in 2010 by City Hall.
Additionally, Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) was expected to finance the decommissioning of the dumpsite to the tune of Sh5.4 billion.
The new development comes at a time when the government has indicated plans to bridge the country’s energy deficit and lower electricity tariffs by tapping into geothermal, wind, natural gas and other cheaper energy sources.
It seeks to reduce the cost of electricity to Sh9.10 (¢10.45) per kilowatt hour from the current average of Sh17.20 (¢19.78) per unit for domestic households.
At present Kenya produces 1,708 megawatts of electricity with plans afoot to add 5,000MW by 2016.