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Sh367b biomass power project to be set up

Uganda Biomass Energy Project Launch

Uganda Biomass Energy Project Launch

Monday, 7th March, 2011

A 40-mega watt biomass power project is to be set up at Namungoona in Kampala district. The $160m (about sh367b) project is a partnership between Sesam Energetics, a local renewable energy firm, and the US-based Taylor Biomass Energy.

The two firms have already sealed a deal to build and operate the waste-to-energy plant.

It will be set up on a 150-acre piece of land between Namungoona and Lugala. The area hosts a national grid sub-station, where connection will be made.

Biomass power is generated from biological materials (living organisms), especially plants, and is predominantly in waste form.

According to Dr. Maalanti Noah, the Sesam chief executive officer, the project will utilise Taylor’s technology to generate green electricity that will be supplied to the national grid.

The plant will have the capacity to recycle about 1,030 tonnes of solid waste from Kampala and the surrounding districts daily to generate enough renewable clean energy to serve over 35,000 households.

Power production is expected to start in two years.

Only 12% of the 31 million Ugandans have access to electricity. The problem is worsened by the country’s high population growth rate, currently standing at 3.45%.

This calls for more innovations to increase power supply.

The project is also timely because garbage collection and disposal has become one of the biggest challenges facing Kampala City Council (KCC).

The city authority spends about sh7m daily to collect and dispose of about 500 tonnes of garbage from the city and its surburbs. This, however, represents a quarter of the total waste generated in the city every day.

Although KCC is said to be mooting a similar project, it has cleared the project. This implies that KCC would enter into some form of agreement with the joint venture on garbage collection.

Julius Wandera, the Electricity Regulatory Authority publicist, said the venture has a licence to start a power plant.

Sieth Magambo, one of the company directors, said the project would provide over 400 jobs and save the environment of about three million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

An additional 1,100 indirect jobs will also be created in due course, he added.

“We shall also carry out regular public sensitisation campaigns about modern environmentally-friendly techniques of waste management,” he said.

Ugandans spend a lot of money on other costly sources of energy like candles and lanterns.

Currently, Umeme charges domestic consumers sh385.6 per unit, commercial consumers, like those running small shops and kiosks pay sh358, small-and-medium industrial consumers part with sh333, while sh330 is paid by large-scale industrial consumers. Street lighting costs sh385 per unit.

According to a 2009 research by Barefoot Ware, an average Ugandan spends between sh5,000 to sh10,000 on kerosene for lighting per month.

A recent report by the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank indicates that over $17b is spent annually on kerosene in Africa.

Over $38b is spent by the two billion people without access to electricity globally.

By D. Ssempijja and F. Nabukeera : The Newvision Newspaper

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