Acquiring green energy has proved to be a very expensive affair to both the governments and public sector. It has been particularly elusive for Kenya despite government’s promise to help people get the source energy. Kelvin Gitata is a Biogas advisor at Takamoto. He shares on a question (Q) and answer (A) interview with our writer Malachi Motano how biogas companies are doing their best especially in Central Kenya to change that, reaching one farmer at a time

Q: Thank you for your time amid many issues on your desk. Without assuming that everyone knows, what is Biogas to start with

A: Thank you so much you too. This is a gas produced from feed stalk. I mean, waste that come in form of green matter like animal waste (cow dung) or human waste.

Q: And why Takamoto

A:Taka means waste and moto means fire so Takamoto means fire that comes from the waste. Our gas comes from the waste of animals like pigs and cows. That informed our choice of name Takamoto. We mainly use waste from pigs and cow dung as our green matter.

Q:Describe the production process

A: The food stalk is put in a digester under a very high pressure and the gas that is produced, the gas that you see bubbling when you look at the dung, is basically what is referred to as methane. The methane is collected in a digester and piped all the way to a gas burner and in some instances pumped to generators. For our case, we usually pump it to a gas burner or generators in some instances. A farmer or a person is able to use it for cooking or heating at home.

Q: How do you link biogas to farming

A: For you to have biogas at home,ideally you must have cows in your cowshed. The cows produce the dung which are used as feed stalk in the digestor. The dung that comes from the digester is well utillised as manure and fertilizer because the digester extracts high levels of Sulphur and water that are present in the dung. The fertilizer that is produced from the digester is very good for farming. If you look around in this farm, you can see the crops are doing so well. It is also a very clean gas, safe for use at home without getting worried of any damage,

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Q When you talk of clean energy and renewable gas, describe

A:Clean energy refers to energy that do not have any harmful or side effects. There are many effects associated with firewood like carbon monoxide and when you inhale carbon monoxide the effects are what we find often in the hospitals, women with congested chests, backaches from carrying firewood, there is a lot of suite at home in the kitchen because of firewood.

When you look at LPG for example, you can easily burn your house or kids when you leave them at home alone. But when you use biogas, biogas is very safe you don’t run at risk of burning your house, it is very clean energy when one inhales it, other than the smell, it does not have any harmful effect and the way we construct our systems, we use appliances such us de-sulphurilises to get rid of excess Sulphur so the end product is something that is very clean and very good for the farmer

Q: Describe Takamoto’s journey with farmers

A:Takamoto started installing biogas systems to small families but the demand for the cheaper, reliable renewable source of energy grew exponentially. It was then that the company came up with a faster and cheaper way to acquire and install the system.

Q: Describe the biogas Market

A: The biogas market has proved to be so competitive but worth noticing is that big and well-established biogas companies like Simgas, Biogas international and Kenfap, some of whom now depend on Takamoto for supply of certain biogas appliances.

Q: Who are your competitors

A:Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) has been the biggest competitor. To some farmers, using LPG is a cheaper option compared to using biogas and this has been the actual headache to any biogas company. Some farmers can travel miles to get LPG rather than install biogas.

Q: So, competition is the only challenge biogas companies face

A:Another huge challenge is lack of trained personnel and technicians for that kind of job. In Kenya many people do not know more about gas production. This means that whenever we hire people, we have to train them before they are taken to the field to forestall disasters of gas leakage. This proves quite expensive not to mention cases where customers have had to withdraw from fears, mostly perceived, of dealing with unqualified field personnel.

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Q: How cheap is Biogas compared to other forms of energy

A:Even though many consider biogas to be the cheapest, it is still beyond reach for the low-income earners. Tragedy is, this lot forms the base of Takamoto’s target clientele. Many of the farmers use firewood, charcoal and in some cases, LPG. Other challenges are weather, manpower and terrain.

Q: What is the cost of installation

A: To get your biogas installed for like in our case, you will need to pay Sh100, 000, an installation fee of Sh15, 000 after which the company will then install all the components needed for the biogas to work. Their package normally includes a digester, stove, piping and labour.

Q: What about the duration

A: The installation takes a day or two. Apart from the initial Sh15, 000, you will be required to provide at least 2 tons of fresh cow dung and two tons of water. The reminder of Sh85, 000 is then paid in installment of Sh3, 000 per month with no interest or security required.

Q: Talk about maintenance

A:Besides installing the system, Takamoto also does free repair and maintenance not unless the repairs are too costly for us in which case, the costs are shared with the client. We also import and sell to other biogas installers, biogas appliances including stoves, lamps, water heaters, brooders and disulpherizers.

Q:Fighting global warming has proved to be very tough for governments. Any hope

A:With the biogas producing companies, in the grass roots, there is hope for the world. It is up to the governments to ensure these kinds of ventures get all the help they may need to grow and prosper.

Q:Compare biogas to other forms of energy

A:Biogas is a concept that is relatively growing in Kenya today and many people are continuing to appreciate biogas. Most companies are continuing to research on how to improve production and the use of biogas to generate electricity

Q:The government is promoting geothermal and wind energy is this not threating biogas production

A: The government is promoting alternative sources of energy and I think when we have biogas on one end and geothermal on the other end I think it will be very good for the client since this will provide them with many options to enable them make appropriate choice and the cumulative effect will be bringing down the cost of energy.

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If you like the article, share here with others, join our whatsup and telegram too green energy has proved to be a very expensive affair to both the governments and public sector. It has been particularly elusive for Kenya despite government’s promise to help people get the source energy. Kelvin Gitata is a Biogas advisor at Takamoto. He shares on a question (Q)...New generation culture in agriculture