KTDA commissions four hydro power plants

Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) is seeking to cut energy costs with the ground-breaking of four hydro power projects.

The projects in Lower Nyamindi, South Mara, Iraru and North Mathioya are all set to provide an alternative cheaper source of energy for KTDA-managed tea factories in the country.

The commissioning is in line with KTDA’s long-term strategy to ensure that tea-growing regions have access to alternative renewable forms of energy that will reduce operational costs in factories and create a new income stream for tea farmers.

Speaking during the ground-breaking event at the North Mathioya site, KTDA Chief Executive Officer Lerionka Tiampati said the agency has invested Sh4.8 billion to ensure that tea-growing regions have access to alternative energy sources, leading to reduced operation costs.

“Energy costs account for about 30 per cent of the operation costs in tea factories with electricity alone accounting for 17 per cent. With the new hydro-plants, the factory is set to cut operation costs and earn money from selling excess power,” he added.

Also looking at the importance of environmental sustainability, KTDA Chairman Peter Kanyago said, “The Kenya government is encouraging manufacturers to turn to green energy in order to achieve Vision 2030 goals, as well as ensure environmental sustainability.”

He further noted that Kenya has huge potential and sufficient renewable energy that will ensure higher energy security, lower costs of energy and increased energy reliability.

Construction of the hydro power project will take two to three years to complete.

National grid

On average, individual tea factories spend about Sh30 million to Sh65 million annually on electricity, depending on factory size, crop level and the variable costs such as fuel cost adjustment and forex that are used by Kenya Power in the calculation of electricity bills.

According to KTDA Power Chairman Joseph Wakimani, investments in internal power generation through small hydros is critical to the factories because the plants have the potential to reduce electricity bills in factories by about 50 per cent, which is equivalent to a saving of Sh1 to Sh2 per kilo of green leaf delivered to factories.

“The hydropower project, once constructed, will generate more energy than a factory’s requirements and the excess will then be sold to the national grid, thus providing additional income stream for farmers,” said Wakimani.

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