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The Kenya Tea Development Agency Ltd. broke ground Aug. 18 on its 1.8 MW Lower Nyamindi small hydro project.
KTDA has invested Kshs 4.8 billion towards the projects in an effort to reduce operating costs for tea factories. The operations and maintenance of the power stations is expected to generate employment opportunities and a new revenue stream for tea farmers. August 20th 2015, Kenya's largest tea management agency - Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA)- has undertaken a series of groundbreaking ceremonies for the construction of four hydro power projects; Lower Nyamindi, South Mara, Iraru and North Mathioya power projects. The projects are all set to provide an alternative cheaper source of energy for KTDA-managed tea factories in the country.
The commissioning of the projects is in line with KTDA's long term strategy to ensure that tea growing regions have access to alternative renewable forms of energy that will reduce operational costs in factories and create a new income stream for tea farmers.
Speaking during the ground breaking event at the North Mathioya site, KTDA Chief Executive Officer Mr. Lerionka Tiampati said that KTDA has invested Kshs 4.8 billion to ensure that tea growing regions have access to alternative energy sources leading to reduced operation costs.
"Energy costs account for about 30% of the operation costs in tea factories with electricity alone accounting for 17%. With the new hydro-plants, the factory is set to cut operation costs and additionally earn money from selling excess power," he added.
Also looking at the importance of environmental sustainability, KTDA Chairman Peter Kanyago pointed out that, "The Kenya government is encouraging manufacturers to turn to green energy in order to achieve Vision 2030 goals, as well as to achieve MDG 7 of the Millennium Development Goals, which is to ensure environmental sustainability."
He further noted that Kenya has huge potential and sufficient renewable energy that will ensure higher energy security, lower costs of energy and increased energy reliability.
Construction of the hydro power project will take two to three years to complete and fully be operational.
On average, individual tea factories spend approximately Ksh 30 million to Ksh 65 million annually on electricity, depending on factory size, crop level and the variable costs such as fuel cost adjustment and forex that are used by Kenya Power in the calculation of electricity bills.
According to KTDA Power Chairman Eng. Joseph Wakimani, investments in internal power generation through small hydros is critical to the factories because the power plants have the potential to reduce electricity bills in factories by about 50%, which equivalent to a saving of Kshs 1 to 2 per kg of green leaf delivered to factories.
"The hydropower project, once constructed will, are hoped to generate more energy than a factory's requirements and the excess will then be sold to the national grid, thus providing an additional income stream for farmers while at the same time stabilizing the grid power," said Eng. Wakimani.