Italian firm eyes biogas from Kenya dumpsites

An illegal dumpsite in Nairobi. 

Photo credit: File Photo | Nation Media Group

Italian oil company Eni Kenya BV is seeking to set up biogas plants in Kenya, which will utilise waste dumped at five major landfills in the country.

The company has already done a feasibility study to assess the viability of the project and is awaiting necessary approvals from the government to go ahead with its implementation.

"In 2023, in support of the subsidiary Eni Kenya BV, Eni Rewind conducted a feasibility study aimed at assessing the potential for biogas production in five urban waste landfills located in Kenya," said the firm's parent company, Eni, in its latest annual report.

"The feasibility study concluded in October (2023), and discussions with local authorities are ongoing to define the next steps of the project," it said.

There are hundreds of major waste landfills across the country, but the Dandora dumpsite in Nairobi is perhaps the most well-known.

The landfills attract tonnes of garbage annually and have become not only an eyesore in the major towns but also pose serious health and environmental risks.

Eni, formerly Agip, has been operating in Kenya for decades. The firm currently runs a biofuel plant in Makueni with an installed capacity of 15,000 metric tonnes.

The company also has oil and gas exploration interests in numerous oil blocks across the country, totalling 35,724 acres.

The Italian firm is seeking to utilise the tonnes of organic waste dumped into these dump sites to make biogas, a growing source of energy for households across the country.

Biogas is one of the main biomass sources of energy in Kenya. Other biomass sources of energy are firewood, biochar, briquettes, bagasse, syngas, bioethanol, and biodiesel.

According to data from the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority, the installed capacity for bioenergy was 113.8 megawatts as of December 2023, comprising 111.8 megawatts of captive capacity and two megawatts of grid-interconnected capacity.

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