Decentralized energy solutions for East Africa and the role of Research: Energy efficiency opportunities in the Tea Sector
Environmental concerns are of a strict multidisciplinary nature, fundamentally because the ecosystem (which we are part of) contains everything referred to as our reality. Our contemporary life is not safe from uninformed mismanagement of the environment, and repercussions as a result are felt at all levels. Therefore the need for comprehensive energy efficiency analysis is crucial and must be conducted in all interrelated sectors if true sustainability is to be achieved. Tackling each sector in relation to another with the aim of achieving overall energy efficiency without harming the environment is paramount.
At the 9th Brown bag session held on the 18th of July 2018, Strathmore University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor of research and innovation presented an outline of a study his team conducted on thirty Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) factories. The study was motivated by an emergent need to stabilise the vulnerable yet robust Kenyan tea industry in order to promote efficiency as well as sustainability to the sector. This energy hungry industry assimilates 5% of Kenya’s overall national energy consumption, with 91% of this energy coming from firewood, (which is 400 times less efficient than gas and is a major producer of GHGs). According to the presentation, this places pressure on Kenya’s already embarrassingly minuscule 7% forest cover, hence; the bigger picture once again gets tainted.
Figure 1; KTDA factories (30) have a baseline energy consumption of 767.4 GWh/year
Professor Izael’s team from Strathmore University was made up of Geoffrey Ronoh, Robert Karissa and Evan Wanjiru who were present at the Brown Bag session to provide an insightful support to the short but very elaborate presentation.
The situational analysis conducted by the team on the 30 KTDA factories exposed a number of gaps in energy efficiency that have apparently gone unchecked. Though these grim short comings were a major highlight of the research study, they were overshadowed by the opportunities that emerged as a result of the research. These opportunities include a number of innovative measures that would reenergise a vital part of the Kenya’s economy.
Implementation of Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) was on focus as innovative measures. they come in three forms; Operational ECMs, Electrical ECMs and Thermal ECMs. If implemented, they would promote tremendous savings in relation to Capital expenditure (CAPEX).
Figure 2; Possible Outcomes from Implementation ECMs
The audience made up of Strathmore University staff and students, provided input to the overall research through participation with questions. This helped provide a good synthesis of ideas on the topic at hand. At completion the Brown bag session represented a concerted effort made by the research team to promote the ever necessary research culture. An endeavour that Strathmore seeks to pursue in earnest.