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April 2019

Bioenergy analysis for 30 Tea Factories

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SERC conducted a bioenergy analysis in 30 tea factories that  source fuelwood from third parties. This project was funded by DANIDA through Kenya Climate and Innovation Centre (KCIC). The goal of this research was to assist the tea factories in identifying drivers of heat energy cost and specify performance and spread of 30 factories linked to SDG 7 target 7.3 which is to double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency and SDG 12 which is to ensure sustainable consumption and production. Research objectives were to review existing information and design an analytical framework covering:


  1. Fuelwood,
  2. alternative biomass fuels supply chains,
  3. onsite fuel logistics, and
  4. boiler operations.


The project involved field surveys and ranking of factories based on their bioenergy usage. The study suggested an introduction of a new benchmarking metric, fuelwood energy costs measured in KSh/MWh embodied in the fuelwood. Results suggested that this metric can be collected at the boiler mouth.


Additionally, results strongly suggested that using high-density fuelwood lowers fuelwood energy costs. In contrast, wood price (KSh/m3 stacked), transport distance or fuelwood use efficiency as currently measured by the tea factories did not provide a credible metric to measure fuelwood energy cost.


Heat loss due to moisture in fuel had a muted impact on overall boiler efficiency. While reduction of moisture content plays an important role and can be cost-effective, boiler design and maintenance (flue gas temp, etc.) leads efficiency results at the boiler.


Lastly, only three of the surveyed factories used alternative biomass at substantial scales. In general, alternative fuels (e.g., macadamia nut shells briquettes, sawdust, briquettes) were transported over much longer distances and were more expensive compared to fuelwood in terms of net heat content.


This project was funded by DANIDA through Kenya Climate and Innovation Centre (KCIC) and it was led by Dr. Thomas Buchholz.


This article was written by Victor Otieno, Researcher,