By John Maniafu, CDE Kakamega, James Ambani, and Warren Girisi Waswa
Kakamega County has emerged as the first in the Country to launch an energy power plant as a way of managing the waste generated. The County is moving toward this energy power plant to recover its waste and develop more energy sources. The project was launched by His Excellency Hon. Dr. FCPA Wycliffe Ambetse Oparanya, Governor Kakamega County on 1st March 2022.
The project will be set at Mung’ang’a grounds in Mumias East Sub County. It is to be established in partnership with the private sector and will be entitled VRH Kakamega Limited Waste to Energy Plant. The investor is VR Holding AB from Finland. The lease agreement will be a period of 30 years and will be renewed based on the performance and relevance of the technology used. The primary objective of the project is to manage waste in the County. This is to be done in an environmentally friendly manner. Energy will be produced by using solid waste as a resource by operating an affordable system and sustainable technology that is easy to maintain. All these are in line with the applicable laws and regulations and global standards. The estimated cost is 9 billion shillings from start to completion. The county has given out 15 acres of land for setting up the project. The land is at Mung’ang’a in Mumias East Sub County.
The waste will be collected from Commercial establishments in Municipalities, urban and rural
centers; Institutions including schools, polytechnics, hospitals, colleges/Universities, and prisons; Bagasse
from jaggeries and sugar industries and from Homesteads – residential estates and rural homes. Waste from the Lake region Counties is expected to be moved to the plant for energy conversion. Waste to Energy Conversion model The model has a capacity of converting 400 tons of waste into energy per day. In the first phase, the project
will generate 10MW of Energy for start which will increase gradually as the company engages neighboring
Counties to supply more waste. The combustible materials in waste will be burned when they reach the
necessary ignition temperature and come into contact with oxygen, undergoing an oxidation reaction. The
reaction temperature is between 850 and 1450ºC, and the combustion process occurs in the gas and
solid phase, simultaneously releasing heat energy. A minimum calorific value of the waste is required to
enable a thermal chain reaction and self-supporting combustion (auto thermic combustion). Therefore
there is no need for the addition of other fuels. During incineration, exhaust gases are created which, after
cleaning, exit into the atmosphere via a pipe or channel called a flue. These fuel gases contain the majority
of the available fuel energy as heat. Excess heat from combustion can be used to make steam for electricity
generation. Anaerobic digestion (AD) is the decomposition of organic matter through microorganisms in
the absence of free oxygen. AD occurs naturally under oxygen-deprived conditions such as some
lake sediments and can be used under controlled conditions to produce biogas. For that purpose a gas-
tight reactor, a so-called anaerobic digester, is used to provide favorable conditions for microorganisms to
turn organic matter, the input feedstock, into biogas and a solid-liquid residue called a digester. Biogas is a
mixture of different gases which can be converted into thermal and/or electrical energy. The flammable gas
methane (CH4) is the main energy carrier in biogas and its content ranges between 50 – 75% depending on feedstock and operational conditions.
Benefits of the Project
The project will be beneficial to the locals, the County, and the environment at large. There will be a transition
to a low carbon economy as it scales up to renewable Energy. Furthermore Climate Change mitigation through cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions. The electricity of over 32MW will be generated and will generally contribute towards cheaper sources of Energy. Waterborne and respiratory infections arising from solid waste will be minimized. It will also contribute toward livelihoods long the solid waste management value chain and considerably improve our solid waste management practices. Generation of employment opportunities in solid waste collection, transportation, and processing and opportunities for cheaper energy. At first, 200 people will be employed and the number will rise as the project continues to run.