A 300 MW wind farm is under construction near Lake Turkana approximately 450 KM north of Nairobi. The 300 MW Lake Turkana Wind Power Project (LTWP) which is being developed on a 40,000 piece of land will produce 20% of the country’s current installed electricity.
After receiving an estimated $694 million (Sh76 billion) for its development in December last year, it is hoped the wind farm will be up and running by 2018.
It will also become the largest single private investment in Kenya and the largest wind farm in sub-saharan Africa ahead of Tarfaya wind farm in Morocco which has 131 turbines.
The 300 MW farm will be installed with 365 wind turbines (each with a capacity of 850 kW), at the top of Mt. Kulal which is 2,300 m above sea level. The site lies 450m at the shore of Lake Turkana and the turbines will heavily rely on the wind streams generated between the mountain located on the desert hinterland and the relatively cool temperatures of the lake.
Wind throughout the year
The wind streams in the area, which are known to be the some of the best wind resources in Africa, blow all year round passing through the valley which acts as the funnel to the turbines. The wind averages at least 11 m/s creating a capacity factor of 62% for the wind farm. The project will also see construction of an overhead electric grid connection and a high voltage sub-station.
The Lake Turkana Wind Power project is located in Loyangalani District Marsabit West County, and will also see the construction of new access roads and upgrading of the 204 KM of existing road from Laisamis. The Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Ltd (Ketraco), will construct a double circuit 400kv, 428km transmission line to deliver the electricity from the farm along to the national grid.
The wind power production is approximately 60% cheaper than the thermal power plants and will eliminate the need for the country to spend over Sh.13.7 it uses to import fuel each year for thermal power. The wind farm will be developed in compliance with all local and international standards, and it is expected to reduce carbon emissions by over 700,000 tonnes which will see the Kenyan government and the local community earn carbon credits.
Wind power potential in Kenya
Kenya has a vast unexploited wind resource that if fully exploited can meet the power requirements of the whole country. The government plans to install an estimated 500 MW of wind capacity in the next three years which is part of the country’s ambitious project to add 5000MW to the grid by 2018 .
Africa has abundant energy resources if fully exploited can be an answer to its power shortage problems that it its economies continues to grapple with. International Energy Agency says sub-saharan Africa will need to invest $300 billion in electricity production by 2030 in order to achieve universal electricity access. An increase in population and the rapidly expanding industries means African countries has to turn to their untapped energy resources like wind, solar and geothermal to provide the much needed power.
Kenya for instance has its development blueprint, Vision 2030, put a target to produce 15,000 MW in 2030 from the current 2,300MW. In an effort to achieve this, the East African largest economy has greatly invested in power production in to increase its electricity production.
Lake Turkana wind power project image: pixabay
Kenya Power (KPLC) will buy the power produced at a fixed price over a 20-year period in accordance with the signed Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).
The Lake Turkana Wind Power Project is being developed by a consortium that consists of KP&P Africa B.V., Aldwych International, Industrial Fund for Developing Countries (IFU), Wind Power A.S. (Vestas), Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation Ltd (Finnfund),and Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries (Norfund).