NDF - Financing for climate change and development projects

NCF: Enhancing Sustainable Energy Supply for Tea Factories [NDF C3 C7]

The project contributes to environmental sustainability as well as rural poverty reduction and gender equality by increasing use of renewable energy in tea factories in Rwanda and Uganda.

Rwanda and Uganda
Enhancing Sustainable Energy Supply for Tea Factories
Ref: NDF C3 C7

Nordic Partner: Pöyry Management Consulting Oy
Local Partner: Rwanda Mountain Tea Ltd & Uganda Tea Development Agency Ltd
Other Partners: EnCatalyze Ltd, RAcell Uganda Ltd, MCI-Micro Carbon Interwood Ltd
Total Project Cost: EUR 330,000
NCF Financing: EUR 280,000
Agreement Signed: 6 September 2011
Project Classification: Mitigation / Renewable energy
Duration: 15 Months (completed)

Project Objective

The overall objective was to contribute to environmental sustainability as well as rural poverty reduction and gender equality by increasing use of renewable energy in tea factories in Rwanda and Uganda. The specific objectives were i) to facilitate 100% sustainable biomass fuel supply for tea factories from wood plantations in order to save natural forests; ii) to contribute to rural electrification by assessing the viability of rural, renewable small scale power generation options (biomass, solar and wind) in tea factories.


The project intended to improve the energy efficiency of six tea factories in Rwanda and Uganda and furthermore, help the factories obtain a sustainable biomass supply, using forest plantations. The project assessed the viability of new and efficient renewable energy supply options (solar and wind) for the tea factories as well as small-scale biomass-fuelled combined heat and power for rural electrification around the factories. Moreover, sustainable forest plantation management practices were enhanced to save the natural forests, decrease deforestation and reduce fuel wood transportation costs.

The main result of the project is an Action Plan for each plantation/factory and a common Sustainable Energy Supply Manual for Tea Factories. Increased energy efficiency in tea processing will decrease productions costs leading to better profitability in tea production. Better profitability will create more employment opportunities and reduce poverty among rural people.

The following measures are the key suggestions resulting from the project:

  • Development of short rotation plantations using eucalyptus clones from Uganda’s National Forest Research Institute (trial plantations since 2002) will ease the land demand problem.
  • For enhancing wood supply, tea factories are encouraged to establish trial plots of one hectare of clone eucalyptus plantation.
  • Testing harmonized planting density (ranging currently from 1,100 plants/ha to 2,500) considering soil quality in selected plots.
  • Leaving lower stumps in tree felling will improve productivity of plantations.
  • Giving branches and tops from factories’ plantations for local people part of community development.
  • Testing chainsaws in tree felling, instead of axes in selected plots and monitoring the productivity and socio-economic consequences.
  • Most of the tea factories’ own plantations are not adequate for 100% supply, therefore wood supply depends partly on out growers/contractors.
  • Motivated R&D person in charge of coordination and monitoring of wood supply development activities.
  • Decreasing moisture content of wood by starting moisture content measurement and expanding roofed storages at factories will improve the control of moisture content of wood.
  • Better control of combustion air flow, e.g. by shortening of fuel feeding time to a boiler or/and installing control system for combustion air and flue gas fans and installing of the combustion air pre-heater.
  • Cutting logs from 1 m to 0.5 m (as wood logs of 0.5 m are favourable size for efficient combustion), and maximum use of saw dust to supplement wood supply.
  • Insulation should be carefully inspected and poor quality insulation for steam distribution pipes shall be replaced. Also lacking insulation should be installed (e.g. valves and flanges). All leakages should be repaired as soon as observed. Heat exchangers should be regularly cleaned and inspected for possible leakages.
  • Modification of the withering fans including replacement of the current metallic fan blades by the more energy efficient hollow fibre reinforced plastic impellers (low cost).
  • Installing variable frequency drivers to the motors running the withering fans. Variable frequency drivers would enable to adjust motor rotating speed to better respond actual air flow requirement during the withering session (high cost)
  • Control of use of lighting at factories without risking safe working conditions.
  • Enhanced maintenance including frequent cleaning and maintenance work.
  • Monitoring of energy consumption/efficiency and continuous follow-up system for energy consumption to establish efficient energy utilization and recognise possible targets of energy wastage.
  • Responsible person for monitoring and reporting of energy issues should be clearly indicated.


Relevance for Climate Change

There are approximately 120 tea factories in the East African Community region. Many of the tea factories in the region have both wood- and oil fired boilers for tea processing. A number of the tea factories have energy concerns. The availability of fuel wood is coming more and more difficult from over-deployed forests. It was, however, found out that tea production at studied sites produces relatively low CO2-emissions, because energy supply is based on sustainable wood supply on a factory levelin these cases. One of the main contributors to CO2-emissions at tea factories is related to use of diesel generators due to irregular power supply from national grids. E.g. in Rwanda and Uganda 5-15% of electricity requirements is produced by diesel generators. 

Action Plans developed during the project will increase tea industries’ ability to mitigate and adapt to climate change and contribute to sustainable development. The project has introduced renewable energy supply options and energy efficiency measures to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and ensure that the emissions of tea industry will not increase in the medium and long term.

CO2 reduction potentials based on the plant specific recommendations in six studied tea factories vary between 144 (low-cost actions) and 794 t/a (high-cost actions). Replacing diesel based generation with hydro in Rwanda and Uganda would lead to further CO2 reductions.

Innovation and Knowledge TransferInnovativeness of the project is based on the following aspects:

Innovativeness of the project was based on the following aspects:

  • Integrated tea factory/employee household fuel wood supply, considering various organizational set-ups.
  • Introduction of no-cost and low-cost energy efficiency measures by auditing and benchmarking current operation of tea factories.
  • Dissemination of know-how of sustainable forest management practices.
  • The Sustainable Energy Supply Manual for Tea factories based on the results of the audits of the six tea factories, participating to the project.

More information

Pöyry Management Consulting Oy
Rwanda Mountain Tea Ltd
Uganda Tea Development Agency Ltd