Decentralized energy solutions for East Africa and the role of research - Energy efficiency potential in the Kenyan tea processing sector

Izael, Da Silva
Karisa, Robert
Ronoh, Geoffrey
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Strathmore University
Tea is one of the largest contributors to the Kenyan economy, accounting for over 20% of the country’s export revenue, and yet over 60% is grown by small scale holders. Although the country is among the top global tea exporters, it risks losing business due to increasing production costs. Energy comes second after labor, accounting for over 20% of the total production cost. It is therefore important to manage energy and the consequent cost in order to keep the product globally competitive. Strathmore Energy Research Centre (SERC) carried out a study in 30 tea factories that included investment grade energy auditing as well as training factory personnel. The industry heavily relies on thermal and electrical energy. Thermal energy is used in the form of steam produced using firewood. Electrical energy mostly comes from the grid, emergency diesel generators while a handful of factories also use hydro-power plants complemented by the grid. On average, a factory’s energy mix consists of 91.7% thermal, 7.8% electrical and only 0.5% diesel. However, the cost of thermal energy averages 41.7%, electricity 55.3% and diesel 3%. This study identifies a number of energy efficiency opportunities that ensure maximal use and conservation of all forms of energy across various factories in the country.
Prof Izael Da Silva is the DVC – Research and Innovation at Strathmore University.
Tea processing, Energy efficiency, Thermal energy, Electrical energy