Kenya tea agency breaks ground on Lower Nyamindi small hydro project

The Kenya Tea Development Agency Ltd. broke ground Aug. 18 on its 1.8-MW Lower Nyamindi small hydro project.

This project will be managed by KTDA Power Co., which was established to further contribute to the renewable energy sector in Kenya. KTDA Power will provide management and consultancy services in the energy sector, KTDA says.

Earlier this month, KTDA announced it is implementing several hydropower projects at various locations in Kenya “to provide a reliable and clean source of electricity to the tea factories and to the Kenyan national electricity grid.” A post on the company’s Facebook page says, “KTDA intends to do more power projects in areas where feasibility studies have shown it can be done.”

According to data from the Kenya Renewable Energy Association, the potential for hydro systems with capacities of less than 10 MW nationwide is estimated at 3,000 MW. The association says there is a correlation between tea plantations and hydro potential in Kenya, with 80% of the 72 tea factories surveyed being located 3 to 15 km from a potential hydropower site.

KTDA manages more than 60 tea factories for 500,000 small holder tea farmers and plans to set up a total of 16 hydropower plants on rivers close to tea factories, the association says. The 16 sites have been proposed by the Ministry of Energy and have a total potential generating capacity of 28.33 MW. The Ministry of Energy is conducting a feasibility study on a further 14 sites around the country.

According to data released in July 2015, KTDA has six hydro projects under construction: 5.8-MW Gura, 1-MW Chania, 5.6-MW North Mathioya, 2-MW South Mara, 1.5-MW Iraru and Lower Nyamindi. North Mathioya, South Mara, Iraru and Lower Nyamindi are expected to be complete in December 2016.

Other projects the company is looking at developing include 2-MW Nyambunde (expected to be complete in December 2017), 3.6-MW Kipsonoi, 2.5-MW Chemosit, Kiringa, Ura, Kathita, Kiptiget, 6-MW Nyamasege, 1.5-MW Rupingazi, and 9-MW Nandi Forest.

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Elizabeth Ingram is content director for the Hydro Review website and HYDROVISION International. She has more than 17 years of experience with the hydroelectric power industry. Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethIngra4 .

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