Biogas first in Kenya for Clarke Energy and Tropical Power


Jenbacher engine at Green is Universal 2007Tropical Power, a developer of biogas and solar plants in Africa, has signed a deal with Clarke Energy to supply the first two containerised Jenbacher biogas engines in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The units will be supplied to an agricultural biogas plant located at a farm near Lake Naivasha, in Kenya.

  • Pioneering development for biogas in Kenya – First biogas engines supplied to by Clarke Energy and GE Power & Water into Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Waste to power – Biogas will be produced from an agricultural anaerobic digester processing wastes to give power and fertiliser.
  • Renewable & sustainable power – 2.4 MW of renewable electricity to be produced in rural Kenya providing power to the local farm and surrounding area, enough to power five to six thousand typical homes. The engines will operate in a combined heat and power (CHP) configuration increasing the overall plant efficiency, through the recovery of heat which will displace diesel normally used in the heating of greenhouses at the farm.

The anaerobic digestion facility will produce biogas, originating from the digestion of food processing wastes coming from the surrounding farms. The technology used in the biogas plant’s design is a novel, advanced technology licensed from Germany.

Clarke Energy is contracted for a turnkey project to supply, engineer and install the CHP generators. The biogas will be fed into two J420 Jenbacher gas engines from GE Power & Water. The engines are specially configured to operate at the high altitude of the project at nearly 2,000 metres above sea level. The gas engines will be configured for cogeneration, with surplus heat recovered as hot water and used for biogas plant process heating and for heating adjacent greenhouses. The biogas engines will be supplied as containerised units for operation in hot and tropical countries. Containerisation facilitates the ready ‘plug-and-play’ deployment of the units.

Economic development in Kenya leads to strains on the local power distribution network. Creation of biogas using waste materials will deliver the reliable production of fuel. In turn, using this gas in the Jenbacher gas engine will facilitate consistent supplies of power to the local area. Surplus power will be supplied to the local electricity grid, helping to stabilise local electricity supplies. Reliable power helps to ensure consistent business operations and hence is a driver for economic growth and performance.

Anaerobic digestion is an established technology in Europe and Asia for the treatment of biodegradable wastes and for the production of renewable power, though there are few examples of large commercial anaerobic digestion facilities in Africa. This first for Clarke Energy and GE Power & Water, demonstrates the ability of this technology to provide continuous reliable and sustainable power on the African continent.

Mike Nolan, Operations Director at Tropical Power, has significant experience of power generation in Africa. Mike sees great potential for biogas to help power in the African continent – especially when used in combination with solar power. Solar power can provide daytime power, with biogas being stored for use at night and when it is cloudy.

Following the signing of the contract to purchase the CHP gas engines from Clarke Energy Mike Nolan said:

We selected Clarke Energy to supply these biogas engines on the basis of their experience of operating in Sub-Saharan Africa, along with a technical solution that offered high electrical efficiency and robust performance using biogas at high altitude.

Following the success of its Nigerian business, Clarke Energy established an East African base in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in 2012.

James Hobday, Clarke Energy’s new Business Development Manager for Africa expressed his views on the project:

We are delighted to be supplying gas engines to our first biogas project in Sub-Saharan Africa. This project demonstrates the viability of biogas as a power source in Africa to deliver significant supplies of power to the region.

Clarke Energy will provide support to Tropical Power, training operators with gas engine operation and maintenance. The more demanding maintenance procedures will be supported by Clarke Energy’s East African service hub.

The biogas engines are scheduled for delivery to Kenya in the last quarter of 2013.

The project will be delivered using a combination of European technology and local content originating from local suppliers and operated by Kenyan nationals.

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Tags: Africa, biogas to electricity, CHP, Clarke Energy, global market