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East Africa Breweries PLC To Increase The Use Of Solar PV At Its Breweries

East Africa Breweries PLC (EABL) has just published its 2022 Sustainability Report. Established in 1922, EABL’s network of breweries, distillers, and distribution network spans across six markets in Eastern Africa. Their operations are concentrated in the three main markets of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. EABL currently contributes about 1% of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and engages over 60,000 farmers across its supply chain.

In its 2022 Sustainability Report, EABL gave an update on the refurbishment of its boilers. So far, the company has managed to replace the old Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) boilers in Nairobi and Kisumu with biomass boilers that use agricultural waste such as macadamia shells, sugar bagasse, coffee, woodchips, and rice husks. The biomass boilers became operational in June of this year and EABL says that the boilers are currently operating at optimal capacity. The switch to biomass will help reduce its carbon emissions by 95% (about 34,000 tonnes) per year.

In Tanzania, Serengeti Breweries Limited (SBL), a subsidiary of EABL, is working towards curbing direct emissions and all three of its sites (Dar Es Salaam, Mwanza, and Moshi) have transitioned to the use of LPG forklifts which have lower emissions than the previous diesel forklifts. It is best to move directly to electric forklifts which are now commercially available, however, EABL will progressively upgrade to electric forklifts with time. Installation of biomass boilers in Moshi and Mwanza is also planned.

Other initiatives mentioned  in the sustainability report are:

  • Replacement of targeted less energy efficient electrical drives with higher efficiency drives
  • Conduct sustainability master planning for Moshi and Mwanza sites to provide a structured roadmap to accelerate the journey to carbon neutrality
  • Explore opportunities to source renewable energy for their sites including use of solar energy
  • Replacement of LPG forklifts with electric forklifts
  • Installation of STRATA system across sites to provide digital real time tracking and measurement of all identified electrical and thermal energy consumption points

In Uganda, United Breweries Limited (UBL) will also install two ultra-modern biomass boilers with a capacity of 8TPH. The biomass boilers will achieve a 90% reduction in greenhouse gases emissions. Other initiatives at UBL include:

  • Reduction of electrical energy usage through refrigeration optimization
  • Use of low energy consuming lights across the site
  • Recovery of carbon dioxide from the beer fermentation process for use in beer packaging. This prevents release of the CO2 to the environment.
  • To accelerate our journey to net zero carbon, they also plan
  • The installation solar PV plants to support the grid

In Kenya, Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL) has already installed a 400 kWp solar PV plant in Kisumu. The plant currently provides 7% of current site electricity needs. KBL wants to increase solar energy penetration from 7% to 15% by 2026. It will install solar panels at the EAML and Tusker sites as well. As reported by Businesstoday last year,  Kenya Breweries Limited expects to generate 9.3 MW at its plant in Nairobi and 2.4 MW in Kisumu from solar.

It’s great to see that big companies in the region such as EABL are now consistently publishing sustainability reports, setting specific targets, and making progress to meet and even exceed their targets before the target dates. Here we just focused on the energy side, but they are also focusing on water and waste management including the increased use of recycled materials and reducing/eliminating waste to landfills. In the case of EABL, the report says they have maintained 0 tonnes of waste to landfill from their direct operations. 100% of all plastics used are either recyclable, reusable, or compostable. This is higher than 2021, where 90% of plastics were widely recyclable and also higher than their 2022 target of 98%.

One thing that I noticed is that besides the planned switch in the long term from LPG forklifts with electric forklifts, there is no mention of any plans to adopt electric vehicles on a wider scale, which is very surprising. There are now commercially available electric vans, buses, lorries, and cars in Kenya and in other parts of the world that can be sourced and supplied to their operations across East Africa such that it should be part of any big company’s plans now and in the near future. Let’s hope by the time next year’s report comes out, there will have been some progress on this, especially given the fact that the transport sector accounts for a significant chunk of CO2 emission in East Africa.

 
 
 
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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.

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