By MURIMI GITARI
Flower farms in Kenya have taken a new direction by venturing into renewable energy to tame the cost of production of flowers with the latest being United Selections based in Nakuru.
The rose breeder, with a slogan ‘breeding a colorful future’ will be rolling out a solar powered system after having contracted a Kenyan-based projector owner, Ecoligo Limited who will be transiting the entire power supply to renewable energy from electric.
United Selections joins a list of flower farms in Kenya that are currently using renewable energy with Oserian Development Company Limited having of late launched 3,000 solar panels this year that were to add 1megawatt power supply to its previous 2.5megawatt of geothermal power. The two integrated produce sufficient renewable energy for consumption by tenants and residents of the Two Lakes Industrial Park.
Oserian has invested a lot in geothermal energy to power its operations in the farm like transporting flowers using electric tugs/cars from the farm to the pack house. This has led to reduction of fossil fuel that was used in the farm saving from Ksh 400,000 up to Ksh 30,000 and by cutting the cost of buying diesel fuel.
Tambuzi Flower Farm, based in Laikipia County is also one of the few farms in the country that also tapped into green solar energy by having installed a 60 kilowatt solar-power system in a bid to reduce carbon emissions. The company was also able to save up to 10,000 kilowatts per month in electricity bills.
Operations in flower farms require a 24-hour power supply from the national grid with the direct solar feed at Tambuzi reducing installation costs of batteries that are no longer in use.
Uhuru flowers installed a 72 kilowatts solar power plant cutting its spending on electricity by 50 percent from Ksh 600,000 every month. Their solar power plant that was installed in the year 2014 was used by the Kenya Flower Council as a case study on using solar technology in flower production
The United Selections project will be a photovoltaic system that will hold a capacity of 110 kilowatts and will be kicking off in August/September. This will help save the company the cost of electricity as it is with other farms using renewable energy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions that will go down by up to 113 tonnes of the gas annually.
The company strives to create a better environment for everyone by being sustainable in all their operations with the current one being transitioning to renewable energy.
Another company based in Ruiru, Red land roses saves about Ksh 450,000 every month on electricity costs and being able to tackle the menace of power losses by using solar energy in the farm which ensures seamless and uninterrupted business operations.
The interest in investing on renewable energy by flower farms has also seen new vendors of medium to large scale solar power developers shift to investing a lot to the new emerging market. This is becoming the greatest payoff of investment in solar energy to the country’s floriculture industry.