Monday, March 29, 2010

Tea Power

Tea factory in Papua New Guinea
The Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) has a massive power bill from over 60 factories that process tea from 500,000 farmers. The supply from the national grid is costly and erratic, so last summer the KTDA created an energy subsidiary to pursue locally generated hydropower, reducing factory costs and boosting farmers' incomes. The Kenyan Ministry of Energy identified 12 sites for the KTDA to develop distributed hydropower generation. Two of these sites are now under development:
Imenti Tea Factory Company is already generating 1 megawatt through the Imenti mini-hydro project. Last June, the factory signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the Kenya Power and Lighting Company to supply surplus power to the national grid. The second project still under construction at Gura river in Nyeri is a four-factory partnership that will serve the KTDA factories at Gitugi, Iriani, Chinga and Gathuthi.
The KTDA has invited expressions of interest to develop the sites. Meanwhile, consultants are reviewing the remaining sites and updating feasibility studies.
According to Mr. Daniel Theuri, the Team Leader at Que Energy Limited, which conducted the feasibility studies, 10 of the 12 sites are commercially viable with an estimated payback period of between two and five years. The 10 sites have a combined capacity of 22 MW.

Small hydros are constructed under a process known as “run of river” and do not affect the local communities as power is generated from the natural flow of the river.

[Kenyan Energy Minister, Mr. Kiraitu] Murungi urged KTDA and its factory companies to move fast and implement small hydros in the viable sites. He said affordable financing could be accessed by the agency once a proposal for implementation is approved.
The Kenyan tea industry, from farmers to factories to rural tea houses represent another opportunity for Hydrovolts turbines to make cost-effective, clean and green, distributed renewable energy. We've also received inquiries from India's tea sector.
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