Woody biomass is the main energy source in Kenya since most Kenyan households use fuelwood and/or charcoal for heating and cooking needs. It is expected that major reliance of wood fuels will continue for decades, in the face of dwindling feedstock supply due to severe forest loss. As an alternative to charcoal, wood pellets have potential to be widely adopted as a cookstove fuel in high efficiency cookstoves and institutional boilers. This study couples plantation forestry with pellet production to create a sustainable supply of cost effective fuel. This study indicates that production of wood pellets from short rotation eucalyptus production can be an economically attractive approach. The cost of producing and delivering wood chips to a pellet mill was modeled based on yield data with a financial model, and the pelleting operation was modeled using a mass-and-energy-balance approach. Pellet costs were found to be lower than the equivalent charcoal cost, and an optimum production point exists with a sizeable employment benefit to the community. While it may be argued that it is preferable to adopt a policy that encourages abandonment of charcoal and fuel wood in favor of fossil fuels, it may be worth considering rethinking this approach, given the potential for producing pellet fuel in a manner that generates local economic benefit, maintains or reduces costs to the end user, and maintains the renewable, sustainable aspect of this sector of the nation's energy economy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Agronomy and Crop Science
- Waste Management and Disposal