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Status of Bioenergy Development in Kenya: Case of Bagasse-based Cogeneration


Stephen Karekezi and John Kimani


The main aim of this study is to assess the status of bioenergy development in Kenya with a special emphasis on bagasse-based cogeneration. Kenya was selected as the area of study due to its large potential for bioenergy development for both liquid biofuel as well as for electricity generation. If sugarcane farming areas were substantially expanded, the country’s existing sugar factories have the potential to produce between 270 to 300 MW of electricity. For liquid biofuels it is estimated that about 41 million litres of ethanol could be produced annually based on the existing production of molasses from the sugar production process. This is equivalent to nearly US$ 30 million per annum of oil imports.

The report is sub-divided into six chapters. The first chapter presents the methodology of the study and provides an overview of bioenergy development in Kenya. It also includes a brief review of Kenya's sugar industry. It is noted that Kenya is well suited for sugarcane development particularly in the lowlands around Lake Victoria in the western part of the country as well as in the coastal south-eastern part of Kenya. The chapter ends with an analysis of key stakeholders in the Kenya sugar industry.

The second chapter discusses the current situation of cogeneration development in Kenya. The chapter defines cogeneration as the simultaneous production of electricity and process heat from a single dynamic plant. A cogeneration plant in a sugar factory burns bagasse (sugarcane waste) to generate steam for process heat and for driving a turbine to produce electricity which is used to run sugar factory machinery It is noted that while bagasse-based cogeneration development delivers several important benefits, like most renewable energy technologies, its upfront cost is high. For example, on average, the investment cost of 1 MW of efficient bagasse-based cogeneration is about US$ 1.5 million.

The third chapter presents two important case studies for cogeneration development in in Mauritius and Kenya. The case studies highlight key issues and challenges that provide useful lessons for future cogeneration development in Kenya. The first case study from Mauritius – the country with one of the most advanced cogeneration industry in Africa - provides an ideal benchmark for Kenya’s cogeneration development. The second case study is on Mumias Sugar Factory in Kenya which has the largest cogeneration plant in the country's sugar sector. Mumias provides an ideal yardstick with which other sugar factories in the country can measure up to.

Chapter 4 reviews the sustainability of cogeneration development in Kenya, a key element to successfull cogeneration development. In Kenya, the chapter identifies several sustainability considerations that need to be addressed and that cover a wider range of prevailing economic, environmental and social issues that are likely to enhance or hinder successful cogeneration development in the country.

Chapter 5 spells out the existing barriers to cogeneration development in Kenya. Even though the sector has registered encouraging growth, several barriers constrain the full realization of the country's large cogeneration potential. These barriers include limited flexibility in the existing feed-in-tariff regime, non-enforceable legal and regulatory instruments and lack of technical expertise, among other factors. The sixth and final chapter summarizes the findings of the study and proposes policy recommendations that would set the stage for accelerated development of cogeneration in Kenya.

This paper is available on an exchange basis. If you find it to be useful, we encourage you to send us any relevant publications from your organization. To request for the full paper, please fill in the publications request form

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