Tea factories shape up for an energy efficient future

26th September 2019

One of the more straightforward wins in tackling climate change is energy efficiency. The tea sector has much to gain from adopting the latest approaches to managing energy use, from installing streamlined, energy productive machinery to the implementation of energy management policies as standard factory practice. ETP is working with tea factories in Kenya to introduce energy efficient measures which will mean lower costs, fewer trees felled, reduced carbon emissions and production processes that maximise output while minimising waste.

As small-scale tea farmers also have shared ownership of the factories, this also helps to increase their incomes. 

In Kenya, 3 million people work in the tea industry, the majority being smallholder farmers. Energy use is one of the largest costs in tea production (over 50%) and this is continuing to rise. The average tea factory uses approximately 20,000 cubic meters of firewood annually, which equates to around 60,000 trees. Add to this the rise in the cost of wood as it becomes scarce and the case for becoming more energy efficient is clear.

Credit: Andy Hall

ETP has been working in partnership with the Kenyan Tea Development Agency (KTDA) and German development agency GIZ on an energy efficiency programme for all KTDA’s 69 tea factories which are located across the country. The 69 factories are owned by around 600,000 small scale tea farmers who collectively produce a majority of tea for the export market. Small scale tea farmers produce 60% of all tea in Kenya.

Credit: Andy Hall
To date, the ETP programme in Kenya has helped the tea sector save 300,000 trees and $3.8m every year through energy efficiency measures. 

The 69 factories have reduced their electricity use by an average of 10% and lowered their wood fuel consumption by 13%. Some of the factories now use up to 40% less energy than before.

The target is to continue improving the energy efficiency in KTDA factories so that 600,000 farmers will benefit from increased income as a direct result of these measures by 2020. 
Credit: Andy Hall

Looking to the future, ETP is working with CEOs of tea factories across Asia to share the learnings from the Kenyan energy efficiency programme and introduce similar approaches. To date, major tea factories across Indonesia and Sri Lanka have collected committed to energy saving plans.