Oserian Development Company’s goal of creating a carbon-free environment by 2020 has received a major boost after the flower exporting company was recognized as the renewable energy champion last week.
Oserian is the largest flower farm on the shores of Lake Naivasha. Established in the late 1960s, the firm produces high-quality flowers for export, utilizing modern technology to grow over 100 hectares of roses, 40 hectares of carnations and 25 hectares of green fillers.
Investment in geothermal energy to power operations, use of electric tugs to transport flowers and use of sheep to mow grass, among initiatives that have seen the Naivasha-based flower farm Oserian Development Company crowned the 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 inefficient use and generation of energy.
The Energy Management Awards were launched in 2004 by the GEF-KAM Energy Efficiency Project, a government of Kenya initiative. The Awards seek to recognize enterprises that have achieved outstanding energy savings and cost reductions through improved utilization 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 pack house.
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.
Thanks to its geothermal systems, Oserian is able to 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 its greenhouses to its pack-house, an innovation that has seen reduction in fossil fuel from Ksh400,000 (about$4,000) to Ksh30,000 (about $300) monthly, which represents massive savings in terms of costs and energy consumption.
Within one year of introducing the electric vehicles, the company has been able to save Ksh1.4 million (roughly $14,000) 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 labour, contributing to a safer chemical-free greener environment.
“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, Director of Human Resources and Administration at Oserian.
In addition, the company has embraced a more environmentally-friendly transportation process. It has adopted cargo lite, the newest flower packaging technology, in which corrugated boards are strengthened with plastic skeletons. 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 1 megawatt of power, enabling it to supply sufficient power for all its operations and sell energy to the national grid.