New technology helps flower farms turn waste into clean energy

QUBE Renewables has developed anaerobic digestion technology to help flower farms turn discarded flowers into energy.

New innovation that uses bacteria to break down organic matter and generate biogas that can be used for cooking and power generation is being supported to help flower farms meet the challenges of managing waste from discarded flowers and reduce high energy costs.

“Although Kenya has a good supply of electricity, the majority of the population is often off-grid, especially during the day, with a large portion of the population not having access to clean fuel. QUBE’s philosophy is to turn people’s problems, like waste, into solutions,” said Jo Clayton, co-founder and director of QUBE Renewables.

The company worked with Oserian Flower Farm to turn piles of flower waste into energy. The farm, one of Kenya’s largest flower growers and exporters, discards up to 1,825 tonnes of waste each year which is either dumped in landfills or composted.

The new system, installed on the farm as part of its long-term focus on sustainability, was built and tested at the factory in the UK before being shipped and assembled on the farm using local resources.

It is made up of 10 containers, each of which serves as an individual digester, 10 batch reactors, a control room, a laboratory and a workshop. Each reactor can accommodate up to three tons of floral waste.

“Flower waste is turned into compost. Any greenhouse gases produced during the process are released into the atmosphere and this is what anaerobic digestion tries to tackle. Innovation is seen as a huge, factory-scale project, but we try to package it into something small and neat so that it fits in a shipping container and can be dropped anywhere. where in the world,” added Jo.

The biogas from the containers is converted into electricity and used to power the farm’s packing stations. The other gas is compressed into cylinders and used in Oserian kitchens to prepare meals for workers.

Traditionally, kitchens relied on firewood.

“There has been a huge improvement in the way we operate in the kitchen. The transition from firewood to biogas has improved efficiency and protected our health. This kind of energy is changing our lives and it is our hope now and in the future,” enthuses Hilary Bett, chef at Oserian Flower Farm.

The new biogas technology comes at a good time with potential for scaling up at a time when up to 90% of Kenya’s rural population continues to depend on firewood and kerosene to meet their energy needs. thus exposing the environment to harmful effects.

Terisa K. Carn