Location: Naro Moru, Kenya
Many countries in Africa are facing a huge deforestation problem. Over the past 50 years alone, Kenya has seen its forest cover drop from 10% to just 1.7%, mainly due to illegal logging. Yet as much as 80% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s energy comes from biomass like trees. In addition, as much as 20% of carbon emissions are related to deforestation. How can Africa source its energy from cleaner, renewable sources?
Eco Fuels Kenya (EFK Group) found the answer growing in East Africa’s backyards. You’ve probably never heard of croton nuts, but they grow across 8 countries in East Africa. Until now, croton trees have been regarded as weeds, serving no purpose other than a source of firewood. EFK discovered that croton nuts contain oil that can be used in diesel generators without additional processing. It also costs less and burns cleaner than diesel fuel. Therefore, they have set up a network of harvesters to collect the nuts, and a no-waste production process to generate fuel. The pulp leftover from producing croton nut oil is used to make biofuel briquettes that can be used instead of firewood in people’s cook stoves. Byproducts are also used to make organic fertilizer and chicken feed.
EFK has found a way to leverage a resource Africa didn’t even know it had. EFK began in 2012, and, during its first two years, built a network of 2,000 harvesters and sold all the croton nut oil they could produce. Since there is currently no biofuel production in Kenya that can serve industrial needs, EFK sees great opportunity for growth. Within five years they aim to produce 1 million liters of biofuel and 3,000 tons of briquettes per year. EFK is also expanding its partnerships, and began working with the World Agroforestry Center in 2014 to further research on agroforestry, biofuels and bioenergy. As an added benefit, the operation provides a new source of income to thousands of harvesters in rural areas. If a clean energy solution was hiding in our backyards all along, what else could we be missing?
Environmental impact: Avoided deforestation, efficient fuel use, avoided use of fossil fuels, including reduced emission of GHGs and harmful substances
Measurement: EFK Group
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