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Thursday, 10 April 2014

Innovative Biogas Business Model Gives Affordable Energy to Low Income Farmers in Central Kenya

The scarcity of wood fuel and high cost of kerosene may no longer be a concern for many rural households in Central Kenya, thanks to a patent pending pay-as-you-go biogas business model that delivers a user friendly and affordable energy alternative to cooking and heating.
Schutter Energy, a client of the Kenya Climate Innovative Center(KCIC) has developed the Takamoto Biogas system for domestic use. The technology is designed with mobile, money-integrated meters, which allow customers to pre-purchase energy units, just as it is for Kenya Power Prepaid customers.

The technology provides an affordable alternative, compared to traditional biogas systems. Farmers pay a small fee to install the system; they then pay for the biogas as they use it. This saves the farmers upfront cost (an average of $1,700) for purchasing the biogas system.
The company retains ownership of each biogas system that is installed, taking full responsibility for its maintenance, as part of the customer service Schutter Energy offers.
Over the years, most Kenyans have been relying on firewood, charcoal, and kerosene for fuel in their homesteads. However, these are becoming expensive amidst concerns that felling of trees is alarmingly on the rise. Emissions from biomass and kerosene also pose serious health risks.
To generate biogas, livestock farmers load into biogas digesters a mixture of cow waste and water. The system also produces a bio fertiliser, which has the potential to increase farmers’ yields. During installation, the farmers are trained on how to operate the digester for optimum results.
Schutter Energy has been working closely with GVEP through the KCIC, since its inception, to secure financial support and promote their business model.
“They are one of many other young, innovative enterprises that the KCIC supports through a mix of business and technical advice, access to facilities and startup grants,” explained Neeketa Khimasia, SME Advisor, and KCIC Programme Manager.
Kyle Schutter, the founder of the Schutter Energy reveals that this year they plan to deliver PAYG biogas to more than 400 families. The company plans to extend its operations to Rift Valley, and will scale up to 10,000 biogas digesters, across East Africa within the next 5 years.
Modern energy access, he points out, has been the foundation of success in the Western world and he hopes the same will happen in Kenya.
The KCIC is a Consortium funded by the British and Danish governments, in partnership with the World Bank’s infoDev programme. GVEP is one of four equal members of the Consortium (along with Strathmore University, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute) charged with setting up and managing the Centre for its first four years. The Centre provides incubation, capacity building and financing to entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises, keen to develop innovative solutions in agribusiness, renewable energy and water, to tackle climate change. It was formally launched in September 2012 and currently has around 75 clients.
Posted by Alessandra