Located in a remote part of Kenya is the Lake Turkana Wind Project (LTWP), a flagship project of Vision 2030, aimed at providing a maximum capacity of 310 megawatts of sustainable energy.
The LTWP will provide the nation with low cost wind power adding to the national grid which is equivalent to approximately 20% of the current installed electricity generating capacity. The wind farm site covering 40,000 acres is located in Loyangalani District, Marsabit West County in north-eastern Kenya.
Launched in July 2015, the project is of significant strategic benefit to Kenya, and at $705 million, it is said to be the largest single private investment in Kenya’s history, and largest wind power plant in Africa.
Once the project is completed it will majorly help to cut production cost of diesel driven thermal power in the energy mix.
An Entrepreneur/ Farmer proposed establishment of the project in the region
Back in 2006, Willem Dolleman, a Dutch Entrepreneur/ farmer resident in Kenya, and a friend (in the wind power industry) discussed the windy conditions in Lake Turkana. On approaching Anset Africa, which Dolleman knew as project developers, they (Anset) started developing the project in the same year.
Wind at Lake Turkana is a great resource which will provide clean, plenty, renewable and widely distributed low cost energy to Kenyans. Besides, it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions when it is used instead of the fossil-fuel derived electricity.
According to African Development Bank (AfDB), the “zero-emission project will also contribute in filling the energy gap in the country, enhancing energy diversification and saving 16 million tons of CO2 emission compared to a fossil fuel-fired power plant.” Furthermore, this will translate to reduced cost of electricity to the end user.
Development in the northern Kenya
LTWP will open up Turkana and Great Rift Valley region for development. Through the wind farm, the region will not only benefit from low cost power but also a range of other development benefits including road infrastructure to the location and fibre-optic cable which will enhance people’s lives in the arid Turkana region.
Additionally, the project will create jobs for over 200 full time employees and about 2, 500 other job opportunities over the period of implementation.
Google’s Interest in Energy Sector
In addition to KP&P BV Africa, Aldwych Turkana International Limited, Vestas Eastern Africa Limited, KLP Norfund Investment AS, Danish Investment Fund for Developing Countries (IFU) Denmark, Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation Ltd (Finnfund), and Sandpiper Limited, Google also joins the list of the global consortium investing in LTWP. Google’s interest in wind power is noticeable as this is the second venture energy projects in Africa after South Africa’s Jasper Solar Power project.
Lake Turkana Wind Project will be financed through equity debt (25%), mezzanine debt (5%) and senior debt (70%). As the mandated lead arranger and senior co-lender, AfDB will provide a long-term senior loan of $150 million.
By September 2016, 50-90 MW of capacity will be ready for commissioning, while the wind farm is expected to be fully operational at 310 MW by April 2017. Once it is rolled out, the project will help Kenya save on importing fuel to generate fossil fuel based power. Kenyans will be able to enjoy low and consistent power prices which will have a ripple effect into the country’s development.