Situated along the Great Rift Valley, Kenya has unique access to abundant renewable energy resources, including geothermal energy. Geothermal energy is heat stored in the Earth’s crust. Direct-use (DU) is the immediate use of geothermal energy for heating and cooling applications.
In effort to explore and develop these resources for agriculture, under the leadership of Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA), Land O’Lakes International Development partnered with energy experts Winrock International and the Kenyan Government under the Powering African Agriculture (PAA) project. The objectives were to assist the Kenya Geothermal Development Company (GDC) to:
- Study the feasibility of various geothermal DU applications
- Set up DU pilot projects
- Develop strategies that attract the private sector to make investments to bring to scale DU innovations
Two fish pond attendants at the geothermal pilot project launch event. The heated fish pond is to the left.
As a result of intensive PAA pre-feasibility studies
, on August 28, 2015, the team officially launched four geothermal pilot projects, which successfully showcased to attendees that DU geothermal energy can be an affordable, efficient and renewable resource for powering agricultural applications. The PAA pilot projects, located in the Menengai Field in Nakuru, Kenya, were:
> Greenhouse: DU energy can be used to control humidity in a greenhouse, which prevents fungal diseases and improves plant quality. As a result, operational costs decrease.
> Fish Pond: This pilot project used DU heat to maintain optimal water temperatures in two fish ponds, which could allow for year-round fish growth if brought to scale.
> Dairy Processing Unit: Dairy processing requires large amounts of processed heat. This pilot project channeled DU energy to heat water for pasteurization. For small-scale dairy plants in Kenya, pay back of using this technology can be less than one year.
> Laundry Unit: Showcasing the applicability of DU outside of agriculture, PAA set up a laundry unit that utilizes DU heat in washers and dryers, demonstrating the potential of DU to significantly reduce costs for industrial garment washing institutions.