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Kenya’s green energy plans in high gear

By | December 1st 2009

By Luke Anami

The race for the conversion of municipal solid waste to energy, also known as electricity production from solid municipal waste is on.

The Ministry of Energy, during the recently held Green Electricity Conference announced plans that will see the public and private sector join hands in investing in green energy.

The utilisation of solid waste, biomass, geothermal and wind as sources of electricity has been daunted as the best electricity generation choices available.

"Generation of electricity from municipal solid waste is actively being pursued," Mr Patrick Nyoike, the PS Ministry of Energy, told FJ.

"Plans are underway for the Nairobi City Council (NCC) to float tenders for a solid waste power plant. Tenders will be out in a months time if all goes on as planned," he added.

The country has the potential to generate at least 100MW from the four major towns of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Nakuru, including neighbouring satellite towns.

Millions of tonnes of solid municipal waste are created every day in Kenya. This can become either a source of problems or a source of energy. With good policies and pulic-private sector partnerships, Kenya could become the green powerhouse in the region.

This is because, the production of green electricity may offer one of the largest domestic opportunities for an alternative and renewable energy source that is good for the environment and the population at the same time.

Dumping sites

The typical way that municipal solid waste management is done is by dumping all the waste into landfills, and letting it decompose. Dandora and Ruai are some of the sites that receive the bulk of the dumped domestic and solid waste.

But, this causes problems, including greenhouse gases and the possibility of leachate that can enter the ground water with harmful contaminants.

Many landfills across the country are becoming full, and cannot hold any more solid waste from municipalities. Dandora and Ruai solid waste dumpsites may soon offer more joy to Kenyans than the eyesore they are today.

Already, the NCC and the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) have signed a small-scale Funding Agreement that will oversee the formulation of a solid waste management plan for Nairobi.

"The council has extensive plans that will oversee the conversion of solid waste into production of electricity," Philip Kisia, Town Clerk said. A situation analysis survey on solid waste in Nairobi is underway.

The survey will involve solid waste characterisation programme and examine the quantities and systems in place and is expected to be complete by March next year. Mr Kisia said once the plans are complete, the NCC project may be replicated across the country.

Despite financial challenges, Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi said the Government would mobilise resources to accelerate the planned venture.

"Frequent droughts, unpredictable oil prices call for a drastic, deliberate and accelerated diversification of our power generation mix in favour of financially viable green energy sources," he said.

"These sources include biomass, wind geothermal energy of which are abundant. If harnessed, they will meet our current and projected demand over the next 25 years," Mr Kiraitu said.

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