Energy affects all aspects of national development. Hence the current global energy crisis demands greater attention to new initiatives on alternative energy sources that are renewable, economically feasible and sustainable. The agriculture-dependent developing countries in Africa can mitigate the energy crisis through innovative use of the available but underutilised biowaste such as organic residues from maize, barley, cotton, tea and sugarcane. Biogas technology is assumed to have the capacity to economically and sustainably convert these vast amounts of biowaste into renewable energy, thereby replacing the unsustainable fossil energy sources, and reducing dependency on fossil fuels. However, the total energy potential of biogas production from crop residues available in Kenya has never been evaluated and quantified. To this end, we selected five different types of residues (maize, barley, cotton, tea and sugarcane) from Kenya and evaluated their energy potential through biomethane potential analysis at 30 °C and a test time of 30 days. The specific methane yields for maize, barley, cotton, tea and sugarcane residues obtained under batch conditions were respectively 363, 271, 365, 67 and 177 m3 per tonne volatile solids. In terms of energy potential, maize, cotton and barley residues were found to be better substrates for methane production than tea and sugarcane residues and could be considered as potential substrates or supplements for methane production without compromising food security in the country. The evaluated residues have a combined national annual maximum potential of about 1313 million cubic meters of methane which represent about 3916 Gigawatt hour (GWh) of electricity and 5887 GWh of thermal energy. The combined electrical potential is equivalent to 73% of the country’s annual power production of 5307 GWh. Utilization of the residues that are readily available on a ‘free on site’ basis for energy production could substitute the fossil fuels that account for a third of the country’s total electricity generation. Besides, exploitation of the potential presented by the biowaste residues can spur an energy revolution in the country resulting in a major economic impact in the region.
- plant residues
- biobased economy