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NCF: Creating Green Local Economy through Commercial Production of Biomass Briquettes from Agro-Industrial Residues in Kenya – “Green Economy Partnership” (GEP) [NDF C62 B 4]

Photo: Heli Sinkko, NCF
Photo: Heli Sinkko, NCF
Photo: Heli Sinkko, NCF
Photo: Heli Sinkko, NCF
The project has supported rural enterprises to produce and market green biomass briquettes in the sugar belt region of Kenya.

Creating Green Local Economy through Commercial Production of Biomass Briquettes from Agro-Industrial Residues in Kenya – “Green Economy Partnership” (GEP)
Ref: NDF C62
B 4

Nordic Partner: The Royal Norwegian Society for Development (Norges Vel)
Local Partner: Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI)
Other Partner: Gum Arabic and Resins Association (GARA)
Total Project Cost: EUR 564,885
NCF Financing: EUR 451,908
Agreement Signed: 28 April 2015
Project Classification: Mitigation
Duration: 34 Months

Project Objective

The overall objective of the project was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by promoting local enterprises in production and supply of carbonized biomass briquettes from sugarcane bagasse in Kenya.

The project has strengthened the technical and business capacity of rural enterprises in five locations of the sugar belt region of Kenya, which is expected to stimulate creation of green jobs and improve rural livelihoods with environmental benefits. The project has established three briquette production facilities in three locations (establishment of two remaining facilities will be completed after the end of NCF project) and supported the capacity building of five cooperative societies in technological skills and business development. In addition to briquettes, each production facility also hosts a tree nursery. Turning sugarcane bagasse into high quality biomass briquettes is a promising opportunity for increasing access to renewable energy options for the population in areas, where deforestation is a problem. The purpose of this project is to promote development of green enterprises in the production and supply of biomass briquettes.
Today, approximately only 60% sugarcane bagasse is used in Kenya internally to generate process heat and about 1 million tonnes of the surplus bagasse is heaped and left to decay around the mills or burned in open fields under uncontrolled conditions. The high quality briquettes will replace the use of wood fuel in areas where deforestation is a major problem and reduce methane emissions from waste bagasse. In addition the project has tested and promoted biochar, a by-product of briquette production, as a soil improver to increase the productivity of agricultural production.

The project has delivered the following main outputs:

  • (i) Reduced deforestation by substituting the use of charcoal produced from wood with biomass briquettes from agricultural waste and by sequestering carbon through tree planting; direct emission reduction of roughly 34,000 tCO2e over a 20 years’ lifetime;
  • (ii) Strengthened technical and business capacity of five rural enterprises for sustainable production and supply of green briquettes from agricultural wastes and established three briquette production facilities;
  • (iii) Created new opportunities for rural private sector development in green enterprises.


Relevance for Climate Change

Deforestation is a major problem also in western Kenya and a source for increased emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in addition to loss of biodiversity. A major driver of deforestation is the felling of trees for firewood and unsustainable charcoal production, which account for about 90% of the total energy consumption in the region. The project activities reduce 1,800 tCO2e annually by replacing unsustainable use of wood with sugarcane bagasse and by planting 28,000 trees during the course of the project. In addition, the project will continue to avoid methane emissions by utilizing excess bagasse that is commonly left to decay under aerobic conditions or burned in open fields under uncontrolled conditions emitting methane (CH4) that is regarded 25 times more potent GHG compared to CO2.

Innovation and Knowledge Transfer

The project has used a holistic, market-based approach to encourage energy consumers to switch from charcoal and firewood to carbonised biomass briquettes. Bagasse remains an underutilized source and on-going efforts have not succeeded to address energy poverty and employment among rural population in an integrated manner. This project was the first attempt to engage private, large-scale sugar companies to supply bagasse to small enterprises stimulating green growth initiatives in the rural set-up by creating new green businesses and jobs in the biomass briquettes value chain. The innovative part of technology transfer was on-job-capacity building through business incubation and mentorship and dissemination of results, best practices and case studies.