AFDB Funding to Turkana Wind Energy Farm in Kenya (300 MW)

The planned 300 megawatts wind energy project in Turkana, northern Kenya, is set for a major boost this week when member states of the African Development Bank (AfDB) endorse proposals that could see the institution’s capital base tripled to $100 billion.

Working documents of the bank seen by the Business Daily showed that proposals on tripling of the capital base is a key agenda as member countries prepare to vote on recommendations by African Finance ministers on Thursday to help boost the continent’s power infrastructure capacity.

The bank plans to channel about 60 per cent of its new capital base towards financing of infrastructure projects with a bulk of the allocations going towards power projects.

The AfDB is a debt arranger for the private consortium, Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP), that eyes raising close to Sh55 billion to finance the wind farm project in northern Kenya and the endorsement to triple its capital base would be a major plus for the private investors.

"Because of the power deficit, we are prioritising all forms of energy. Some are renewables, but there’s no either/or," AfDB President Donald Kaberuka told Reuters in an interview on Sunday ahead of the bank’s 2010 annual meeting that began yesterday in Abijan, Cote d’ Ivoire.

The LTWP envisaged to construct a wind farm consisting of 353 wind turbines, each with a capacity of 850 kilowatts (kw). The total power generated in the initial phase of the wind energy project is expected to reach 300 MW by July, 2012.

LTWP already has an agreement with Danish firm – Vestas Wind to supply 360 wind turbines for use in the project. In January, LTWP signed a purchase agreement with the Keny Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) to sell power to the national grid – paving way for the country to make a major leap towards tackling its crippling energy deficit.

The deal also triggered hope for more reliable supplies and friendlier energy bills for consumers as a comparative analysis showed that wind-based sources of energy would be among the cheaper options in the long run when compared to others such the thermal sources that are today increasingly relied on by the government whenever the country suffers the now common failed rains.

Industrialists in Kenya have particularly suffered serious down times owing to regular outages that come with power rationing programmes.

This has forced most of them to turn to alternative sources such as diesel run generators that drove up their operational costs.

"Wind compares favourably with competing power generation sources in Kenya and the wind resource in Kenya is truly outstanding akin to hydrocarbon reserves," LTWP chairman, Mr Carlo van Wageningen, told Business Daily in a recent interview.

Analyses by experts at the Energy ministry showed that Kenya requires at least 2,013MW in additional power supplies to the national grid by 2014 even though such dreams have repeatedly been thwarted by hitches in access to finance to construct new power plants.

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) identifies lack of investment in the sector as a major contributor to the current energy crisis despite widespread claims that poor weather was to blame.

Kenya heavily relies on hydro-based source that accounts for about 60 per cent of its power capacity.

Statistics showed that Kenya currently has an installed power capacity of 1,480 mega watts, including temporary emergency power of 290MW, but is currently supplying about 1050 megawatts at peak time.

Data further showed that the country’s current power reserve capacity – the difference between power demand and supply – has wilted to record levels of 65mw or 5.6 per cent of the effective demand which is well below the reserve limit of 15 per cent.

The Lake Turkana Wind Power project (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 will provide reliable and continuous clean power to satisfy up to 17% of Kenya’s planned total installed power upon commissioning in 2012.

By Allan Odhiambo,