KTDA factories reduce energy consumption in efficiency drive
Factories managed by the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) have reduced the amount of energy used to process one kilo of tea by an average 15 per cent over the last four years in an efficiency drive meant to boost farmers’ earnings.
The reduction in both electricity and firewood consumption was recorded between 2013 and 2017 through an energy efficiency programme by KTDA, Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP) and German Development Agency (GIZ).
“The project’s main aim is to improve the energy efficiency for our factories, to reduce energy consumption so that the extra money that would have been used in energy goes to the farmer,” said KTDA’s management services operations director Alfred Njagi in a statement.
The reduction is good news for smallholder tea farmers with energy accounting for up to 30 per cent of factory running costs. The more energy-efficient a factory is, the less the cost of fuel.
Mr Njagi said each factory on average reduced its energy consumption from 35.21 to 29.76 megajoules for each kilo of processed tea.
“Ndima Tea Factory recorded the biggest improvement, reducing its energy use for each kilo of tea by 38 per cent. Mataara recorded a 34 per cent drop, Ogembo 36 per cent, Gathuthi 26 per cent, Igembe 16 per cent, Momul 29 per cent and Chebut 16 per cent, representing the best performers in their respective regions,” he said.
The factories have been employing a mix of initiatives including regular energy audits and replacement of standard machine parts (like withering fans and motors) with high efficiency ones to bring down the energy consumption.
The factories have also been insulating their steam systems to prevent heat loss and save on the amount of wood fuel used.
Other initiatives include the installation of LED lights which consume less power and training production staff on energy efficiency.