Africa’s first grid-connected biogas plant to start in Kenya

Africa’s first grid-connected biogas plantstarted supplying power on March 1, according to Johnnie McMillan, managing director of Tropical Power Kenya Ltd.

The $6.5 million Gorge Farm Energy Park anaerobic digester in Kenya will consume an annual 50,000 tons of organic waste sourced from a neighbouring 800-hectare (1,977-acre) farm owned by VegPro Group, one of Tropical’s investment partners.

“We expect to achieve a 5 1/2-year payback and that’s made possible by the aggregate tariff of what we sell to the grid, the locals around here and VegPro, which is East Africa’s biggest exporter of fresh vegetables to the U.K.,” McMillan said in an interview on Tuesday in Naivasha, 77 kilometers (48 miles) north of Nairobi.

The 2.8-megawatt park took a year to build and the power it will put into the national grid will cost $0.10 per kilowatt hour compared with $0.38 per KWh for diesel-generated power, McMillan said. In addition, the plant will also house a 10-megawatt grid-connected solar PV Plant.
Tropical plans to build renewable power assets across Africa producing more than 130 MW by 2018, according to a statement. The company is planning a plant in Ghana replicating the original model in Kenya, near Lake Volta, where VegPro has a 1,000 hectare farm, McMillan said.