Agricultural Power & Energy
Agricultural activities are sometimes carried out in regions which are off-grid and hard to reach places. Renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass have potential to be utilized as primary energy sources for such farms. Subsistence farming is widely practiced by rural communities in Kenya. Biomass and animal draft power meet major energy needs of the rural sector as it is available locally. Decentralized production of electricity using thermal energy from biomass, hydro power from small streams and in addition to photovoltaic solar systems will power farm water systems, milking machines, refrigerators, motorized greenhouses, driers, lighting and household appliances just to mention a few equipment. It is estimated that more than 600 million tons of biomass is available from various crop residues and agro-wastes of which about 60 –65 per cent can be used for power generation. Besides, about 27 million tons of municipal waste is also available which has potential to be utilized for energy production.
1.2 Rationale and justification
The benefits of using renewable energy for agricultural practices and activities are immense. Other than producing cleaner, greener energy, food production costs will go down, farm business risk reduced and biodiversity benefits enhanced. There is also scope for improved water and land management alongside rural economic development. Farm power and energy is therefore a major interest because it provides rural communities with long term income generating activities.
- To power agricultural activities such as irrigation, greenhouse conditioning, food and feed processing and preservation through research and development of renewable energy sources
- To impact micro-economies of rural communities through research and development of renewable energy industries
- To preserve biodiversity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources
1.4 Challenges and constraints
- Limited and in some cases total lack of capacity to manufacture agricultural machinery and equipment in Kenya
- Limited and in some cases lack of infrastructure to support research and development of renewable energy sources
- Poor funding in agriculture for research and development of renewable energy sources and their support structure
1.5 Strategic focus
The major focus here is provision and implementation of energy and power stations at a small scale and in settings which do not compromise the environment or local sensitivities. Farm power improves biodiversity in all its sites, wherever it operates. This power will be used for running the machines and other domestic uses resulting to a health environment.