3 reasons why your Energy Proposals are never approved

Before I start doing an energy audit, I normally ask my clients if there are any previous energy audits reports and if I can have access to them. My primary reason often is to find out whether any of the recommendations proposed by my predecessor auditors have actually been implemented. I try to find out whether the audit made any impact. In many occasions, from my analysis, none of the recommendations previously proposed ever get implemented.

So why do companies invest in doing an energy audit only to let the audit report gather dust on the shelves? Why is it so difficult to even implement the no-cost energy conservation measures? From my experience and research, I think it boils down to three things;

1. Trust

Most companies simply do not trust the energy proposals in the audit report. Some numbers look too good to be true. I mean, where else do we find investments with less than a 2 year payback or even less? But are most of these savings true? Sure they are true. I have come to find out that most companies really waste a lot of energy and some of them just can believe it when you show them the waste. Energy is not a visible product. There are ways to make it visible but most of the time not through the energy audit report.

2. Poor Selling

The energy efficiency world is field dominated with technical engineering professionals. These are people who have high technical skills in engineering math and engineering technology. Selling is not a natural strength in this industry. Most energy proposals are therefore loaded with technical engineering calculations of kWh savings and functionality of engineering technology.  This is not the language of CEOs and CFOs. The people who approve projects (CFO’s) do not want to understand kWh, BTUs and engineering technology. CFOs are only keen to make informed investment decisions, they are not focused on engineering efficiency technology. So if your 64 page technical audit proposal is on the CFOs desk, you can probably count on it gathering dust if it’s not structured in the right language that the CFO understands.

3. Budget

Lack of budget. Most energy efficiency decisions are not factored in the budget. Energy efficiency projects are normally unanticipated until when you present your proposal. The CFOs will normally be constrained by budget as a lot of projects are competing for the funds. Actually the biggest hurdle to approval of energy efficiency proposals is normally lack of capital.

So is there a way to circumvent these challenges and get your energy audit proposals approved? Sure there is. We shall discuss that in our next post.

World Energy Day 2019 – Topics

By Carolyne Gathuru

Amplifying the Energy and Climate Change Conversation – Unveiling The World Energy Day 2019 Menu….

What better time than this to be championing the discourse around the Energy and Climate Change agenda. What with the world decrying the sorry state of energy affairs in the continent and the climate change effects that are slowly but surely creating a whole new world of undesired environmental impacts. This October, Africa congregates to crown the World Energy Day 2019 Celebrations with a conference. That seeks to address – ‘Energy Sustainability in Africa: Unlocking the Energy and Climate Change Equation’.

Acknowledging that an energy-climate change gap currently exists. Where energy management efficiency and climate change are handled as two separate areas of focus. There is need to synergize efforts for more sustainable impact. To harness the energies expended to tackle these matters towards a common goal. With this specific focus, the 2019 gathering of energy and climate change enthusiasts will thoroughly work through the conference theme and discuss both traditional and emerging issues.

Conference discussion topics

Lined up for discussion include discussion and presentation areas that touch on at least ten SDGs (1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, and 15). With a view to creating synergies that plug into sustainable actions for implementation. The presentation list includes:

  • Leading Energy Change in the region. Designed to provide insights into the role of both public and private sector leadership to support the energy industry and champion energy change
  • The Government’s Role in realizing the Big 4 Agenda. From an energy perspective and how this dove tails into the major projects on Healthcare, Affordable Housing, Food Security and Manufacturing Infrastructure
  • An exposition on contextualizing global energy dynamics, and how Africa can tap into this for sustainability
  • Exploring the adoption of the energy regulations in counties to formulate energy implementation plans with case studies and projections for the more promising counties
  • An overview of the global, regional and local green building sector and the role of real estate industry players in driving energy and climate change best practice
  • Opportunities to synthesize the Energy and Water Efficiency Nexus, including monitoring, measurement and mitigation of waste
  • The corporate endeavour towards bridging the energy and climate change SDGs implementation gap
  • The gender mainstreaming agenda in the energy and climate change sector – roles and responsibility mapping
  • Energy efficiency and climate change impacts in the transport and logistics sector
  • Technological disruption – riding the digitization wave to harvest opportunities for water, energy and climate change efficiencies
  • Energy Financing – projects and case studies towards implementation of financial return on investment for energy efficiency
  • Renewable energy trends in the Industry – reviewing local and national and local renewable energy prospects and their impact
  • Energy and Climate Change Innovation – exploring tapping into Block chain, AI and Big Data
  • Energy and climate change capacity development in the region and what it takes to empower energy and climate change graduates to full professionals


With professional speakers hailing from the different continents to provide a global perspective. Both global energy leaders and climate change experts will provide perspectives for sustainable growth to propel Africa forward. Being part of this conversations for change will contribute towards shaping the future of Africa. Energy and climate change enthusiasts who want to stand up to be counted, need to plug into. Contribute towards these discussions that are more relevant now than ever before.

Energy Trends in Kenya

Since 2005, the Kenyan energy sector has received a major boost. Mainly through large investments in wind and geothermal energy projects. However, the demand for energy is increasing at a very fast rate due to population increase and industrialization.

On the global front, demand for energy is two-fold. With users from developed nations needing more electrical appliances, and industrialization taking shape in the developing countries. The world’s energy demand is on an upward trend at a projected 44% increase by 2030. Interestingly, global power production is even higher and is expected to grow by 76% in 2030.

Population growth

Population growth is at the centre of this phenomenal energy demand. According to a UN report released in 2012, Africa and Asia are experiencing unprecedented population growth.

By 2050, the UN notes that urban population in both continents will have grown tremendously. With African cities recording 1.2 billion people, while Asian cities will accommodate 3.3 billion. According to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the two continents account for 86% of the world’s urban population growth. As the report further predicts, great challenges in the energy and environmental aspects will arise as a result of this growth.

Global energy demand

Similar to the global energy situation, the demand for energy in Africa will expectedly increase in the next few decades. Rural-urban migration is still rife as the economies in Africa become more industrialized.

Analysts have always termed Africa as a sleeping energy giant. This is due to the many energy resources lying unused in this continent. From fossil fuel reserves alone, Africa can comfortably cater for her energy needs. Other huge energy sources in Africa include geothermal and solar resource.

A focus on Kenya

Kenya is a model of the situation in Africa; out of its 9000MW geothermal energy potential, only 130MW is now harnessed. Since the energy demand in Kenya is on the upward trend. Continued exploitation of geothermal resources is one of the best ways of reducing pressure on hydropower and other conventional energy sources.

All indications show that the energy solution in Kenya lies in the geothermal resource. The Government of Kenya has set aside $1.4 billion for new geothermal power plants. A case in point was the launching of a 280MW geothermal power plant in Naivasha by former President Mwai Kibaki on 23rd July 2012. A lot is in store for the future, with projections of 5GW geothermal power production by 2030. There is even better news for Kenya after the discovery of oil reserves in Turkana County.

As Kenya strives to get an industrialized economy status by 2030, sustainable energy production is the priority. There is danger in overdependence on hydrothermal energy, which presently caters for close to 60% of energy in Kenya. Due to concerns about irregular rainfall, unpredictable oil prices and negative effects of fossil fuels. The best solution for Kenya’s energy lies in green energy, mainly geothermal.


By Ombajo G Vincent

solar two

Energy consciousness, environmental sustainability, green energy…these seem to be the emerging buzzwords of the 21st century. Energy, its sources and usage are defining the ways of life and how businesses operate in more potent extents that have never even been imaginable before.

Most importantly, the most amazing beauty about the energy world, especially with regards to green energy, is that it’s a free world where no one can be left behind, choice or necessity notwithstanding. Everyone can participate in sustaining our energy resources and consumption in every small ways. Nothing beats a revolution that can be built right from the environment of our homes.

Home Solar Energy Systems

Home solar energy systems are the easiest and surest ways through which all of us can leave a positive score in the expansion of the green energy realm. And this brings us home to talk about powering, not just of our houses, but also of our lives.

Ultimately, when we think solar…we think education for our children, improved family lives in terms of reduction of costs, and the happiness of bringing the sun closer home from the sky through lights. We think sustainability. It’s like extending sunshine into the dark of the night and truly taking dominion of the sun as a natural resource.


solar three

Solar energy is basically harnessing sunlight through the use of solar panels or modules and converting it to electricity to light and to power our homes. It is also used in solar thermal and water heating systems for homes.

Over the years, the use of solar energy in our homes has not only grown, but also it has sustained its own growth. One of the most attractive things regarding solar power is its incredible affordability.

In fact, solar panels are among the world’s top products that have seen tremendous reduction in prices. This has seen prices drop by up to 80% in just under a decade. Installation of home solar systems brings to homes, families and even communities, significant benefits that cannot be gainsaid. So why shouldn’t homes take to the usage of solar energy as soon as yesterday? What are these benefits enjoyed by few but missed by many, unknowingly?

This has seen prices drop by up to 80% in just under a decade. Installation of home solar systems brings to homes, families and even communities, significant benefits that cannot be gainsaid. So why shouldn’t homes take to the usage of solar energy as soon as yesterday? What are these benefits enjoyed by few but missed by many, unknowingly?

Solar energy is basically harnessing sunlight through the use of solar panels or modules and converting it to electricity to light and to power our homes. It is also used in solar thermal and water heating systems for homes. Over the years, the use of solar energy in our homes has not only grown, but also it has sustained its own growth.

One of the most attractive things regarding solar power is its incredible affordability. In fact, solar panels are among the world’s top products that have seen tremendous reduction in prices. This has seen prices drop by up to 80% in just under a decade.

Installation of home solar systems brings to homes, families and even communities, significant benefits that cannot be gainsaid. So why shouldn’t homes take to the usage of solar energy as soon as yesterday? What are these benefits enjoyed by few but missed by many, unknowingly?

Simple Solar PV connection

There are several home based uses of solar energy. In a home setting, one would need a solar panel, a charge controller, an inverter and a battery. This is a typical solar photo-voltaic (PV) connection. The panel will capture the sun’s rays and convert it to electricity.

This electricity, which is normally in the form of DC signal, will be directed to a charge controller then to a battery. The charge controller helps regulate the electricity from the solar panels from overcharging the batteries. These batteries are used to store power for usage at night when there is no sunlight.

From the battery, the electricity passes through an inverter then into the appliances like radios, TV’s in the home, light bulbs, mobile chargers etc. The inverter is used to convert the initial DC (direct current) signal to AC (alternating current) signal for use because most appliances are designed to only take in AC signals.

solar five

Environmental Conservation

Going green is just as fascinating a concept as it sounds. Adoption of solar energy in our homes not only lets us be green in our energy usage, but it also just breathes life into other essential aspects of our lives. Conserving the environment is a goal for most folks and solar energy is just the simplest tactic at realizing this goal.

When families embrace solar, they contribute to the reduction of green house gases and minimize their carbon footprint. Who doesn’t want to be part of such A noble initiative? And therefore, homes become the first avenue of reducing greenhouse emissions. Imagine every home being the basic driver of this priceless intention.

If every home does just that, aren’t we then taking care of this earth that we have borrowed from our children and children’s children. When you install solar, you sort of try to give your bit back to nature and look after the planet. And it is wonderful for our children to be aware of this as well.

Understanding Greenhouse Effect and Carbon Footprint

Let’s shine light on the elements of greenhouse gases and carbon footprint. The earth we live in already has enough natural green house gases in the form of water vapor, carbon dioxide and methane.

The earth produces a lot of heat that needs to escape into the space through the atmosphere so that we can have habitable comfort. But when we burn a lot of fossil fuels like oil and coal, we produce a lot of carbon dioxide that increases the amount of greenhouse gases.

This in turn prevents the heat from the earth from escaping thus making the earth warmer than it should be…global warming. It leads to greenhouse effect and it basically works the way normal greenhouses function to keep farms warm.

Carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases unleashed directly in support of human activities like lighting, cooking etc. When we use solar energy, we produce less greenhouse gases because we burn less fossil fuels and thus reducing our greenhouse gas emission intensities.

So how exactly does grid electricity from utilities contribute to greenhouse effect? A lot of fossil fuel is used in electricity generation including the diesel that runs the generators in power plants. No wonder in the electricity bills, fuel is charged and is paid for heavily by clients or users.

Reduction of Electricity Bills or Costs

Bills, costs and money…these words aren’t friendly at all. But what if we had a way of just making these terms friendly? Honestly, using solar energy to light and power our homes becomes the answer. Families and homes that use solar energy have a significant reduction of their bills.

Solar saves energy costs for homes or rather the sun just becomes a savior of our finances. So using solar doesn’t just light our world, it lights other essential spheres of our functions…cash savings. When children are taught the reason behind going solar, and the reason given is to save costs, then that’s a lifetime money sense lesson for them.

Using solar just has a way of making people self-reliant and initiative-driven. And who knows, it could just be the sustainable spark families need to explore the savings culture in their other obligations.


solar homes

Now there is no doubt that the solar panels are just breath taking, beautiful and elegant in appearance.

Aesthetics are essential in life. If it beautifies the look of homes and houses, it certainly decorates our inner souls. It brightens our world. They are easy to maintain, even children can clean them.

Therefore, it is an important step to go solar because the benefits are convincingly superior even in terms of improving the essence of our lives. This is one of the most appealing investments people should consider in this century. And so many people have. Have you?


By Ombajo Vincent Gedion


The confusion surrounding these two words cannot be gainsaid. In fact, the confusion also reigns within professional circles of engineers, scientists and technicians. And when the two words are in the vicinity of each other, for instance in a sentence, the mix-up doubles even more. Energy and power, are often thought by many as synonyms.

However, this misconception can be forgiven because Energy and Power possess a high degree of interrelation.

The good news is that they are not in any way difficult to differentiate. Energy and Power are related but different physical quantities in the field of energy generation, storage and usage.

Definition of energy and power

Stated simply, energy is the capacity to do work or the ability to do work while power is the rate at which that work is done. Essentially, power is a measurement of energy…a measure of its rate. Power calculates the time by which the energy has been consumed. So energy can be delivered to run an equipment, but the rate at which it runs the equipment is its power. Put simply, that the equipment can run slow or fast translating to low power or high power respectively.

Therefore, it is important to note that energy is a measure of the total quantity of work done while power is a measure of how fast that particular work is done. Suffice to say, thus, that power and energy are not similar. Power is the rate of energy per unit time.

Take the example of a car or a light bulb. For the car to move down a highway, work has to be done to move it. It takes energy to do this work. The car can move faster or slowly. How fast or slow this energy moves the car is called power. Therefore, the faster the work is done on the car, the more the power.

Let us take the example of a filament bulb. For a bulb to light, electrons have to be moved. Moving these electrons take work that obviously requires energy. The rate at which these electrons are moved is power. The electrons can be moved faster or slowly and that will depend on the energy supplied.

Taking an examples of engines, a smaller engine can do the same amount of work, produce the same energy, consume the same fuel just as much as a bigger engine. But where is the difference? While the two engines can perform the same amount of work, the smaller engine will take more time while the bigger one will take a shorter time. Why is this so? The smaller engine has less power while bigger engine has more power. The higher the power, the faster is the engine, and the quicker the work gets done.

Electrical power is measured in Watts while Energy is measured in Watt-hours. For instance, if a bulb is rated 100 Watts. That is its power. But how much energy does it use? It depends on how long the bulb is left burning. If it burns for 10 hours, the total energy becomes 100 W ×10 hrs=1000 Watt hours. It can be written as 1 kWh because 1000 W is equivalent to 1kWh. To put it plainly, anytime you measure electrical energy, it is important to always check the ‘hours’.

Finally, energy can be stored, power cannot be stored. Also, while energy has a time component, power is an instantaneous element. Power remains constant, it cannot vary while energy can vary predictably. Energy changes form while power doesn’t. For example, kinetic energy can change to electrical energy and vice versa for work to be done.

As a matter of principle, if something (work) has to happen, energy has to alter its form. On the other hand, power does not change, it only measures how fast the change has transpired. In short, power and energy have interrelation but not similar.

10+ Energy Auditing Tools & Where To Buy Them in 2019

Energy Auditing involves using various measuring equipment depending on the investigation being carried out. In order to fully understand energy auditing it is imperative to have some idea of the equipment that is used and the various parameters being measured.

We have divided this into four categories: –

  • Electrical Measurement
  • Temperature Measurement
  • Exhaust Gas Measurement
  • Speed of Rotating Equipment

Electrical Measurement

For measuring the electrical parameters the following instrumentation are included:
1. Ammeter: measures the current absorbed by motors/machines.
2. Voltmeter: measures the voltage or voltage drop in the grid or electrical circuits.
3. Watt-meter: measures instant power demand of motors/ machines or the power performance of generators.
4. Cosö-meter: measures the power factor or monitors the rectification devices
5. Multi-meter: measures all the above quantities and some other quantities (e.g. frequency, reactivity, phase angle, etc)

All of the above instruments are usually portable. They are connected to the wiring with the use of nippers and they could feature a data-logger. Measurements of electrical power and energy consumption should be made on all energy-intensive areas and installations.

During the measurement of all the above quantities, the total power (metered in kVA) and the active power (usually metered in kW) should be distinguished. Common measuring instrumentation is based on a sinusoidal waveform, which gives incorrect readings for VSDs (Variable speed drives). In such cases, the use of meters measuring real RMS (Root Mean Square) values is necessary.

Measurement of electrical parameters requires use of a complex instrument called a power analyzer. After the instrument’s proper connection to the electrical panel of machinery or the substation under examination, measurement readings are presented on its display, which include instantaneous and programmable duration measurements for each phase and for the total voltage, current, apparent reactive and active power, cosö and energy consumption. The instantaneous measurements are repeated every 20 seconds (CRES, 2000).

Temperature measurement

The most common temperature measuring technologies include:
a) Resistance Thermometer Detectors (RTD): One of the most technologically-advanced instruments with internal signals for calibration and resetting and a high level of accuracy.
b) Thermocouples: Widely used and not expensive, covering a wide range of temperatures, from a few degrees up to 1000 °C and are usually portable. They need frequent calibration with specialized instruments. Their main disadvantage is that they have a weak signal, easily affected by industrial noise.
c) Thermistors: Used as permanent meters and are of low cost and have an automatic resetting capability.
d) Infrared thermometers: Measure temperatures from a distance by sensing the thermal radiation. They sense “hot-spots” and insulation problem areas. Portable and easy to use, but with limited accuracy

Before auditing the heating systems (e.g. boilers), the equipment should operate at its normal temperatures, so that data coming from the measurements can be the representative of actual performance. In order to determine the heat losses from the building’s as well as the locations where insulation is degrading, the indoor temperature should be higher than the outdoor temperature. Thus, a cold and cloudy day should be chosen in order to avoid the heating effect on walls by incident radiation (CRES, 2000).

Flow measurements

To estimate heat flow through a fluid, it is necessary to measure its flux (mass or volume). Such measurements typically include air and liquid fuel, steam and hot or cold water, or airflow measurements. Combining a measurement of temperature difference with flow measurement allows for the measurement of the thermal and energy flows.

The meter should be carefully selected, taking into account the fluid type, any diluted and corrosive substances, the speed range and the relevant costs. Flow-metering sensors can be classified as follows:
• Differential pressure meters (of perforated diaphragm, Venturi or Pitot tube type)
• Interference meters (of variable cross section, positive shift, eddy or vortex metering type)
• Non-interference meters (of ultrasonic or magnetic meter type)
• Mass meters (Coriolis or angular momentum type)

Flow_Dynasonics Doppler Ultrasonic Flow Meters

Exhaust gas measurements

Exhaust gas measurements include CO2, CO, SOx, NOx, smoke content, and temperature measurement. Traditionally, these measurements are taken with low cost portable instruments called gas analyzers.
• Gas analyzers
Gas analyzers can rapidly measure all the above quantities and, at the same time, perform calculations for the combustion efficiency.

The traditional measurement instruments measure under dry gas conditions, while the electronic analyzers measure the gases composition continuously and under real time conditions. The appropriate sampling point is located where maximum temperature occurs, right in the middle of the gas flow


Once proper sampling is achieved, gases are analyzed by the gas analyzer and the percentage of the exhaust gases in CO, CO2, O2, SO2, NOx, CxHx is determined through built-in algorithms.

Speed of rotating equipment

Speed measurements of for example motors are critical as they may change with frequency, belt slip and loading. There are two main types of speed measurement instruments:
• Tachometer
• Stroboscope
In a contact-type tachometer, the wheel of the tachometer gets in contact with the rotating body. Due to friction between the two, after few seconds the speed of the wheel of the tachometer is the same as the speed of the rotating body.

The digital stroboscope is an instrument used to make a cyclically moving object appear to be slow moving, or stationary. When measuring the rotational speed of an object, set the flash rate is initially put on a higher setting than the estimated speed of the object. Then, slowly reduce the flash rate until the first single image appears. At this point, the strobe flash rate is equal to the rotational speed of the object.

Wind Energy in Kenya – Not blowing us away?

It goes without saying that the Turkana wind power project will do a lot of good for the Kenyan power situation. With the power to add 310 megawatts to the national grid, this project will account for 13% of Kenya’s power supply.

Plagued by a variety of setbacks, it is not surprising that this project failed to meet its June 2017 deadline. However, despite issues such as pulling out of funding by the now bankrupt Italian contractor Isolux Ingenieria, this wind farm project is nearly complete.

Power is already being produced on the wind farm awaiting transmission to the national grid. The only setback to transmission is the incomplete Loiyangalani-Suswa power line that is worth a total of 150 million dollars.

Fortunately for Kenyans everywhere, two Chinese companies, Power China Guizhou and NARI Group Corporation have taken over the completion of the 428-kilometer 400 kV power line. They are expected to complete it by August, failure to which Kenyans will be at risk of paying extra penalties.

The lack of power evacuation from the wind farm will cost both the wind farm managers and ordinary Kenyans a tidy sum of money. However, the completion of this project will be a major boost to Kenya’s energy sector.

In a country that majorly depends on hydroelectricity, wind power is highly welcomed. Not only is it more reliable than its rain-dependent counterpart but it is also considerably cheaper. According to the Low Emission Development Strategies Global Partnership (LED GP), the Turkana Wind Power Project will also considerably reduce the annual amount of greenhouse gas emissions and create over two thousand job opportunities.

Currently, the only wind farm that is connected to the national grid is the Ngong’ power station which produces 25 MW of power. Other noticeable wind power projects include the Marsabit and Habasweni mini-grids.

While the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that Kenya has the potential to produce up to 3000 MW of wind energy, it is quite unfortunate that it has a limited number of wind farms. With most parts of the country experiencing wind average wind speeds of over 6m/s, Kenya is ripe for wind farming.

Challenges to harnessing wind power in Kenya

Although Kenya holds great potential for wind power production, this sector faces some serious challenges. These include:

  1. Political interference – there are several wind energy projects have been stalled due to protests that are fueled by political reasons. In fact, there are allegations of politicians inciting such protests.
  2. Opposition from local communities who have the unfounded fear losing their land without timely compensation
  3. Lack of funding – sometimes investors go bankrupt before a project is complete. This forces the government to stop construction until new investors can be found, a process that is far from easy.

Government legislation

In order to promote wind energy expansion, the government of Kenya has put in place several pieces of legislation. Current legislation aims to:

  1. Ensure the undertaking of Research Development and Dissemination
  2. Invest in transmission lines to enable efficient injection of electricity to the national grid
  3. Ensure regular updating of the wind atlas
  4. Promote frequent collection of wind energy data

Although Kenya has not fully exploited its wind energy potential, it has made significant strides towards it. In fact, Kenya is one of the few African countries that have made the most progress in wind energy expansion. This can be attributed to it being home to a variety of wind power projects including Africa’s largest wind farm, the Turkana Wind Power Project.

Such projects go a long way to contributing towards attaining Kenya’s Vision 2030 of increasing the national electricity capacity. As countries across the world focus on clean and sustainable renewable energy, Kenya should be keen not to be left behind.

By Eng. Nancy Akinyi.

Nancy Akinyi is a graduate engineer, a writer and a budding entrepreneur whose interests lie in water and energy management. Find her on twitter @nakinyi.

How to use Biogas to power your Vehicle

Biogas is an established, renewable, clean and particulate-free source of energy that is an alternative to many fuels and especially biomass based fuels such as firewood and charcoal. At household level, the gas is predominantly used to provide clean fuel for cooking and lighting. The gas can also be used to replace fossil fuels such as petrol, diesel, and natural gas as some of the fuels used to power motor vehicles and to run plant machinery.

To achieve this, the raw gas from the digester has to be enriched first through purification, compression and bottling of the gas depending on its final application. In Europe especially Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy and Denmark, use of biogas and natural gas in both public and private transport sectors is a fast growing phenomenon. Germany has 622 biogas/natural gas refueling stations while Italy has 521 stations. There are available passenger cars, buses and trucks that run on enriched biogas/natural gas from such manufacturers like Volvo, Mercedes, FIAT, MAN and Ford among many others.

Compared to natural gas that has between 75-98 % methane with small percentages of ethane, butane and propane, the composition of raw biogas from a digester has approximately 60% methane and 40% carbon dioxide. It also contains trace elements of hydrogen sulfide and moisture. This composition makes the quality of the gas not good enough to be used as fuel for to power machinery. But there is available and proven technology that can improve the methane content of biogas. It is currently possible to improve the quality of biogas by enriching its methane content to a level where it matches that of natural gas. With methane enrichment and compression of the gas, it can be used as fuel to power motor vehicle that runs on compressed natural gas (CNG). Biogas lower emission levels compared to those of natural gas and diesel makes it more desirable and climate friendly.

But how is the biogas enriched? There are many ways in which the gas can be enriched but the most common, low cost and fairly simple in application is water scrubbing. In this method, the raw biogas is injected from the bottom of a packed scrubber with pressurized water being injected from above. Since carbon dioxide is soluble in water under different temperatures and pressures, ideally a water scrubber dissolves between 95-98% of the carbon dioxide contained in the biogas. Thus, the initial 40 % carbon dioxide present in raw biogas is reduced to about 2 % by volume in enriched biogas. To increase the solubility of carbon dioxide in water, raw biogas is also compressed up to about 1.0 MPa pressure.

Since enriched biogas can be used to power motor vehicles and machinery. It is important to package the gas in bottles or provide refueling infrastructure so that it’s handling and distribution is easy. To bottle the enriched gas, it has to be compressed first before being filled in high pressure steel cylinders (available in the market for CNG storage). For example, to make enriched and compressed biogas (CBG) suitable for automobile application, the enriched biogas is compressed to about 20.0 MPa after moisture removal and filled in special high pressure steel cylinders. To be used for motor transport, biogas has to be enriched to at least 95% methane and then it can be used in vehicles originally modified to run on natural gas.

A study done in India on a 3 cylinder 4 stroke 800 cc vehicle, showed it’s possible for a motor vehicle to run on biogas. The car in question had an average fuel consumption of about 9km/kg biogas and covered 60 km on approximately 1 hour. In Britain, the Volvo S80 Bi-Fuel has a five cylinder; 2.4-litre bi-fuel engine powered by biogas or compressed natural gas (CNG) with petrol acting as a back-up. The car engine uses two separate fuel systems, and automatically switches to the back-up petrol system should the primary biogas/CNG supply run out. A tank of biogas or CNG gives a range of 250-300 km (Nyeri-Nairobi round trip) and the reserve petrol tank provides an additional range of about 350 km.

For biogas to become a viable fuel to power motor vehicles and machinery, Kenya will need to invest in a national network of compressed biogas (CBG) and liquefied biogas (LBG) refueling stations akin to petrol/diesel distributers we currently have. But unlike our ‘normal’ refueling stations, biogas refueling stations will require a different set of fueling considerations. Special insulated storage tanks will be required to store the fuel on site and fueling on fast fill basis will still take slightly longer than normal liquid fuel vehicles.


Ever thought of a relationship between energy and food security? Well the two are interlinked and have considerable impacts on the human livelihood and development.

But what is Energy Security?

The United Nations puts it as “access to clean, reliable and affordable energy services for cooking and heating, lighting, communications and productive uses” and as “uninterrupted physical availability at a price which is affordable, while respecting environment concerns”.

And food security as defined by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) is “availability and access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet the dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”.

There exists a gap between energy demand and the actual access to it especially in developing countries. Reduction of poverty in the community is dependent on full access electricity or access to commercial energy and energy efficient sources (UNDP, 2005) and this is still a challenge in many developing countries. Increasing access to energy services in the developing world is important in increase food security through irrigation, improving crop processing, preservation and storage. It could also strengthen the development of other income generating activities that will create livelihoods among populations to enable them buy food and sustain their families

Energy affects food security both directly and indirectly. And food security also has a key role in alleviating energy poverty by being a source of energy. This cuts across food production, processing, storage, retail distribution and also in cooking and preparation. The cost of fuel/energy has shown to increase the cost of food. FAO has found this has an evident link in food prices and energy prices (FAO, 2011a) e.g. if the cost of electricity/ fuel/other forms of energy go up, there is a high chance in increased cost of food production. Water as well plays a key role in the Food-Energy nexus for our Livelihoods as depicted in the image below.

Importance of energy in food security
Food intake by most people worldwide comes from basic grains such as rice, corn, millets, wheat, beans, peas, green grams, lentils etc. which in all cases need to be cooked to be consumed, which requires heat energy, but their very production, harvest, and processing require energy inputs as well as for cultivation, irrigation, transport, and, while others require preservation.

Energy security is important to food security and by Improving access to energy across the developing world is key to improving the lives of the poor communities. There is an estimated 2.7 billion people relying on traditional biomass for cooking and the overwhelming majority of the 1.4 billion without access to grid electricity. This people mainly live in Africa and South Asia (Karekezi S. et. Al). Without access to electricity and sustainable energy sources, communities have little chance to achieve food security and will have no opportunities to secure productive livelihoods as well as alleviate poverty.

Energy plays a vital role in enhancing food security through technologies that can be used for irrigation and water pumping. Energy is required for mechanical power (water pumping or distribution) and this can be from grid-connected electricity, local motors using fuels, or renewable energy- derived water-lifting devices etc. Additionally, facilitating irrigation and use of cleaner and affordable energy options can help ensure food security among the poor in spite of increasingly frequent drought conditions in many countries. This may have significant potential for not only ensuring food supply throughout the year but also generating additional income for households (Karekezi et al., 2005).

On the other hand, Renewable energy solutions including solar, wind, biofuels, hydro and geothermal can be used in agri-food systems as a substitute for fossil fuels to generate heat or electricity for use on farms or in aquaculture operations. If excess energy is produced, it can be exported off the property to earn additional revenue for the owners. Such activities can bring benefits to the community and make them independent

Food security is not only dependent on availability of water but also on access to energy and of most importance is access to affordable energy sources and use of renewable energy across the community for sustainability and enhancing livelihoods.


  1. UN Secretary General’s Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change (AGECC), Summary Report and Recommendations, 28 April 2010, p. 13
  2. FAO. 1996. Rome Declaration on World Food Security and World Food Summit Plan of Action. World Food Summit 13–17 November 1996. Rome.
  3. Karekezi S., McDade S., Boardman B., Kimani J., Lustig N.: Energy, Poverty, and Development, http://www.iiasa.ac.at/web/home/research/Flagship-Projects/Global-Energy-Assessment/GEA_Chapter2_development_hires.pdf)
  4. UNDP, 2005 : Energizing the MDGs: A Guide to Energy’s Role in Reducing Poverty . United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) , New York, NY .
  5. Karekezi , S. , J. Kimani , A. Wambille , P. Balla , F. Magessa , W. Kithyoma , and X. Ochieng , 2005: The Potential Contribution of Non Electrical Renewable Energy Technologies (RETS) to Poverty Reduction in East Africa . Energy, Environment and Development Network for Africa , Nairobi .

By Ms. Eleen Korir


Can Water Use Also Be More Efficient?

By Ombajo  V Gedion

Of all the resources that seem to have long been forgotten, water leads the pack. Rarely do we hear of its conservation or efficient use being championed. Throughout history, water has been inexpensive to a larger extent and has also been greatly perceived to be plenteous. These misconceptions have not been farfetched, yet therein lies the danger, the call for action, and behavior change that will make efficient water usage plentiful in all conservation policies and campaigns.

None, or very few incentives, exist, if any, for water conservation. In fact, wastage of water doesn’t seem to ring a caution bell in the collective consciousness of humanity. In the current world, there has been massive population growth and fast economic enhancement on one side and aging water infrastructure and regional droughts on the other.  These have impacted negatively on the structures, systems and agencies that are tasked with water supply. Demand has risen to astronomical levels. Industries have increased just as much as households have. As a result, there has been seen rising water rates, insufficient supply, and restricted supply. What was once plentiful has almost evolved overnight into a luxury.

In most cases, water utilities try to implement maximum water-use levels to manage supply yet this is still not commonplace. Facilities that consume water therefore must find ways to reduce water use without affecting their operations and output. The beauty with efficient use of water is that it cuts back on costs and sometimes maintenance costs also go down. In addition, facilities that are water conscious and implement a water saving plan, tend to get back their investments. Just like in energy efficiency programs, water efficient programs eventually pay back for themselves. An intentional water saving initiative that addresses all aspects of water use within a facility is thus not just a matter of necessity, but also of urgency. These aspects definitely include supply, usage and handling of waste water.

One important tool that can help in saving water use is the water audit. This is the most effective tool and the first essential step toward understanding a facility’s water use and the strategies that can be effected to reduce it. An audit will trace water use from its point of entry into the facility, its use and eventual discharge into the sewer. The audit will pinpoint each area of water use within and around the facility and approximate the quantity of water used at each of these points. Unaccountable water losses and possible leaks are identified and quantified. The audit then provides facility management with a road map of potential savings, as well as implementation costs.

One other key aspect of a water audit is the focus on water quality.  Water audits deals with water quality just as much as it focuses on quantity. Huge potential savings lies in recycling and harvesting of rainwater. Alternative water sources can also be explored. A complete water audit will delve on all the major areas of water consumption in a facility including sanitation, maintenance, irrigation, and so on. In all these specific areas, the audit will give a breakdown of the how, when and where of water use. Audit your water use and save money and the environment.

The Writer is an Energy Engineer at Eenovators Ltd.