Kenya Building Africa’s Largest Wind Farm
Kenya recently announced plans to build the largest wind farm in Africa. As energy demands increase and blackouts continue to be commonplace accross the continent, African Governments and private companies alike are constantly looking for new energy technology solutions. Kenya through its main power company KenGen is positioning itself as a leader in the use of solar, geothermal and now wind technologies to meet its energy needs and combat climate change simultaneously.
The project, will consist of around 365 giant wind turbines constructed in a desert around Lake Turkana in the arid region of northern Kenya.
Costing an estimated £533 million, the wind farm will have a capacity of 300MW – one of the world’s biggest proportions of wind energy to be fed into a national grid anywhere in the world.
When completed in 2012, the project will also have the capacity to provide a quarter of Kenya’s current installed power.
Neighbouring country Tanzania has also commenced plans to generate around 100MW of power from two projects in the central Singida region, while Ethiopia has commissioned a 120MW farm in Tigray.
In addition to this large Turkana wind farm, funded by the African Development Bank, private investors are looking to establish a second windfarm near Naivasha, in the Rift Valley region of Kenya; As well as in Ngong hills near Nairobi, which already has six 50m turbines from the Danish company Vestas that were erected last month and will add 5.1MW to the national grid from August. Another dozen turbines will be added at the site in the next few years.
The Dutch consortium behind the Lake Turkana Wind Power project (LTWP) has leased over 163,000 acres in northern Kenya. According to LTWP, which has an agreement to sell its electricity to the Kenya Power & Lighting Company (KPLC), the average wind speed is 11metres per second, akin to “proven reserves” in the oil sector, said Carlo Van Wageningen, chairman of the company.
There are also some logistical issues for the company to overcome. This is a very remote area of Kenya, nearly 482 KM (300 miles) north of Nairobi. Transporting the turbines will require thousands of truck journeys, as well as the improvement of bridges and roads along the way. Security may also be an issue as this region is known as bandit country, and many locals are armed with AK-47 assault rifles.
LTWP also has to construct a 266-mile transmission line and several substations to connect the wind farm to the national grid. It has promised to provide electricity to the closest local towns, currently powered by generators.
Kenya Electricity Generating Company Limited, KenGen is the leading electric power generation company in Kenya, producing about 80 percent of electricity consumed in the country. The company utilises various sources to generate electricity ranging from hydro, geothermal, thermal and wind. Hydro is the leading source, with an installed capacity of 677.3MW, which is 72.3 per cent of the company’s installed capacity.
About Lake Turkana Power Project
Lake Turkana Wind Power consortium (LTWP) is poised to provide 300 MW of clean power to Kenya’s national electricity grid by taking advantage of a unique wind resource in Northwest Kenya near Lake Turkana. Using the latest wind turbine technology LTWP can provide reliable and continuous clean power to satisfy up to 30% of Kenya’s current total installed power.