Work on Kenya’s Lake Turkana Wind Power project – Africa’s largest wind farm – is on track completion and finally on the home stretch to switch on.
When operational, the wind farm will generate at least 310 megawatts (MW) of power, adding to Kenya’s total current generation capacity of approximately 2,341MW.
Power from the US$1 billion project – which will be the largest single private investment in Kenya – will be truly transformative for the country. The electricity generated, which will be sent 438 kilometers (272 miles) along a 400kV high-voltage line to the grid at Mount Suswa, in the center of the country, is enough to supply 1 million homes with clean energy and electrifying many off-grid rural areas for the first time.
According to a senior project director, close to 300 of the wind farm’s 365 turbines have now been erected – “we expect all the turbines to be erected, by mid-March, and by mid-May latest, all of them will be fully connected to the substation, in readiness for power delivery.”
The transmission line, being built by state-run Kenya Transmission Company (KETRACO), had been due for completion by October, but was delayed by demands for compensation from landowners along the route, however will be complete by the end of March.
The project has attracted and continues to attract interest globally – data technology giant, Google – which has reportedly paid US$40 million for a 12.5 percent stake post-switch-on.
Francois Sterin, director of global infrastructure at Google, sees the influence of the project on sub-Saharan Africa being “huge”. “From a pure resource perspective, Africa looks very interesting indeed, and Lake Turkana is a first project in a promising market that we are believers in in the long term, particularly as countries like Kenya need the power generation.”
“This project has the potential to have a huge impact on Kenya’s grid, helping in the take-up of renewable energy in one of the world’s fastest-growing economies”, he added.
The Lake Turkana Wind Power project [wind farm] will be key to opening up the African market to large-scale renewables – the sort of infrastructure that is needed for Africa unleash its vast economic potential.