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Bamburi to increase biomass energy use to cut production costs

Bamburi Cement plant in Mombasa
Bamburi Cement plant in Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Cement manufacturer Bamburi is eyeing biomass energy in a bid to cut down on expensive fuels such as coal used in its production systems.

Bamburi Cement managing director Saddiq Hassani said the firm wants to nearly triple the usage of biomass energy in its production process to 30 percent from current 12 percent.

The firm is counting on burning condemned cargo at Mombasa port in its kilns as well oil wastes from petrol stations, used tyres and garbage in cities to produce more biomass for cement.

Mr Hassani says this will help diversify source of biomass and grow usage of the cheaper fuel. Biomass fuel in Uganda accounts for up to 70 per cent of energy used in cement production.

“Getting biomass has not been as easy as in Uganda given our plant is located far from the current sources. We are now diversifying our sourcing so that we can rise its share in energy mix to above 30 percent by 2022,” said Mr Hassani.

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Bamburi is working with Kenya Ports Authority to burn condemned cargo in its kilns. It has also inked deal with oil marketers and garages to be receiving used oil.

The firm has so far collected 1.5 million litres of used oil and expects to hit three million litres annually by bringing on board garage operators and big transport companies

Last year, Bamburi’s net profit fell 69 percent to Sh0.6 billion partly on increased energy costs and higher electricity prices in Kenya.

Coal costs about $5 per gigajoule (GJ) while biomass is at about $2 per GJ, meaning that Bamburi can save Sh3 million for every one million GJ of bomass used.

Mr Hassani said Bamburi is spending about Sh15,000 per megawatt (MW) on electricity power in Kenya compared to Uganda’s Sh9,000 per MW. He added that the lower night tariffs introduced by government have done little.

“We do it but this is very minimal. A kiln has to run 24 hours, seven days a week. You cannot stop the kiln at daytime and so our power saving is below one percent,” said Mr Hassani.

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