Investment in geothermal energy to power operations, use of electric cars to transport flowers and use of sheep to mow grass are among initiatives that have seen Naivasha-based flower farm Oserian Development Company crowned winner in the Renewable Energy category of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) Energy Management Awards (EMA) 2019.
Kenya’s oldest flower farm was feted among some other 20 firms recognized for exemplary measures in the efficient use and generation of energy.
Since the flower farm embraced heating of greenhouses with geothermal energy in 2001, it has remained the only in Africa and among the largest in the world, to use this power in flower production. Oserian runs the world’s largest geothermal powered greenhouse and flower packhouse.
By using geothermal heating, it has managed to tame diseases such as petal botrytis and downy mildew, two of the greatest threats to flower production while minimizing fungicide spray in the greenhouses and reducing the cost of energy, leading to a substantial contribution to a greener planet.
Oserian can grow exclusive specialty roses like Queen of Africa and Vuvuzela which require unique heating not possible under different heating systems, according to Hamish Ker, former long-serving technical director with the farm.
A year ago Oserian introduced electric cars, known as tugs that are geothermal powered to transport flowers from the greenhouses to the packhouse, an innovation that has seen a reduction in fossil fuel from Sh400,000 to Sh30,000 monthly, massive savings in terms of costs and energy consumption.
Within one year of introducing electric vehicles, the company has been able to save Sh1.4 million on diesel.
The success of this venture has seen the company mull converting their fleet to a hundred percent electric in the future as the company moves closer to being a carbon-free business in 2020.
In partnership with biological control companies Madumbi and Andermatt of Switzerland – Oserian produces 10 million beneficial insects every week to eat predatory bugs reducing the use of chemicals and labor, contributing to a safer chemical-free greener environment.
Oserian Renewable Energy Kenya has also introduced hybrid sheep that are used to keep the grass short around the greenhouses, replacing the diesel mowers.
The hundreds of sheep move the paddle to paddle clearing grass, dropping waste that turns into manure, removing cover that harbor insects breeding grounds essentially contributing to fewer predators, therefore, fewer chemicals to control them.
“This win is a testament to the commitment we have for matters green energy especially in our daily operations and we are happy someone has recognized the effort and investment,” said Mary Kinyua the Director of Human Resources and Administration at Oserian
Also, the company has embraced a more environmentally-friendly transportation process. It has adopted cargo lines, the newest flower packaging technology, in which corrugated boards are strengthened with a plastic skeleton. This means a lighter box, which saves on airspace and airfreight costs, resulting in a reduced impact on the environment. By using the new packaging system, Oserian can potentially save up to $8,000 for every one million stems transported to Europe.
This month, the farm is set to launch a solar plant to inject an additional 1megawatt enabling it to supply sufficient power for all its operations and sell to the national grid.
The Energy Management Awards launched in 2004 by the GEF-KAM Energy Efficiency Project seeks to recognize enterprises that have achieved outstanding energy savings and cost reductions through improved utilization of energy.