Africa’s largest wind power project is well on course and is expected to deliver 310 megawatts to the national grid by mid-2017.
Lake Turkana Wind Power project, to be constructed on 41,000 acres in Marasabit County, has since picked up pace after it achieved full financial closure in December 2014.
The project is part of the Government’s ambitious plan to deliver an additional 5,000MW of power to the national grid in the next three years. Lake Turkana Wind Power board chairman Mugo Kibati said the Sh76 billion project will transform Kenya’s growth. The construction of 400Km power line by Kenya Transmission Company (KETRACO) and 204Km road from Laisamis to the wind farm site as well as manufacturing of wind turbines in Denmark projects are ongoing.
Kibati said full project cycle is 32 months. “Tremendous progress has been made in advancing the project when measured against the complexities of the project and the level of sophistication. We are confident of coming online fully by mid-2017,” he said. Kibati noted that the construction work for the road is so far 20 per cent with the expectation to complete by the end of the year to pave way for the transportation of heavy equipment required for the project. “The turbines are only the more significant part of the project. There are many other pieces of equipment that are part of the project.
Some of that is already beginning to be moved onsite by other means,” he said. Since its inception, the project has faced political, financial and social challenges. “We have had a number of challenges.
However, there are challenges which are external to us such as the inter-community clashes which have an impact. In the project preparation, all these challenges were anticipated and catered for,” he said. Kibati added, “We are hopeful that in the next three years down the road we will focus less on clashes because there will be a lot to talk about socio-economic benefits of the project for the people of Marsabit.”
Kenya’s electricity demand is expected to rise 12 per cent and thus the additional 310MW of power from the project will go a long way to meet the growing demand and relieve some of the pressure on the country’s energy targets. KenGen produces approximately 80 per cent of the electricity consumed and of that 65 per cent comes from hydro-power sources. The mega infrastructure indicates the shift from reliance of hydro-power to renewable energy.
The project is expected to inject the first 50MW-90MW at the end of 2016 and the entire 310MW by mid-2017 when the project is fully commissioned. This is an equivalent of 20 per cent of the current installed electricity generating capacity from the 365 wind turbines that will be installed. This will bring the country’ total installed wind generated power to 336MW at the cost of 8.7 US cents per kilowatt hour, which will significantly bring down the overall cost of power.
“No nation can develop or transform itself from an underdeveloped third world country into an upper middle income industrialised country without adequate amounts of inexpensive renewable energy. I’m glad that we are part of the government noble initiative of the additional 5,000MW of power,” Kibati added. The project has received global recognition and won several awards. It was awarded the Africa renewable Deal of the year at the IJ Global Awards 2014. They were also named the Thomson Reuters Africa Renewable Deal of the year 2014 by Project finance International (PFI) for its role in reducing greenhouse gas emission.