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Africa's largest wind farm will help stimulate Kenyan economy

Photo: COWI
​A new windfarm in Kenya will become Africa's largest windfarm, producing enough green energy to meet 20 per cent of the country's energy demand. Altogether, it will reduce the country's need for importing oil and provide 200 permanent local jobs.

​Near Lake Turkana in the Loyangalani district, Kenya, a new wind power project has commenced. The project aims to provide 300 MW of reliable, low cost wind power to the Kenyan national grid. A total of 365 wind turbines will be erected near the lake, where, thanks to special local conditions, winds blow predictably and regularly with an average speed of 11 metres per second. COWI will provide technical assistance concerning the wind turbine contract as project management consultant.

Stimulating the economy

Kenyans pay more for electricity than residents of any other African country except Rwanda. Even so, power cuts and power losses are common. Given the country's substantial wind, geothermal and solar energy resources, renewable energy could go a long way to improving its situation. Furthermore, the introduction of new energy solutions can create significant benefits in terms of economic development, job creation and environmental conservation.

The new wind farm by Lake Turkana alone can help Kenya save approximately 100 million euros in oil import every year, and in times of low energy demand, the country will also be able to sell some of the renewable energy to its neighbouring countries.

Engaging the locals

Besides the many advantages on a national scale, the wind farm will also provide new opportunities for the locals in the area surrounding the lake.

"Right from the get-go, the project has aimed at involving the local tribes. The local residents have been offered various jobs, and to secure good relations, we've established several water wells for the surrounding towns. As part of the wind-farm project, we'll also build a new village, which will house the workers, but the locals will also be able to utilize its facilities," says Project Manager Søren Arthur Jensen.

In total, the new wind turbine park will provide 200 permanent local jobs.

Reliable winds

A unique geographical phenomenon exists in the area around the site where daily temperature fluctuations generate strong, predictable wind streams between the lake and the desert hinterland. The local valley then functions as a funnel causing the wind streams to accelerate.

"We see these local wind conditions many places across the world. These places offer great opportunities for renewable energy – it's just a matter of seizing them," concludes Jensen.

 

By Karen Øksnebjerg, kaoe@cowi.com
Published 19.01.2015

The Lake Turkana Wind Project

  • ​The project is the largest single private investment in Kenya's history.
     
  • The wind farm site covers 162 square kilometres and will, when finished, be the largest wind farm in Sub-Saharan Africa.
     
  • The project consists of four main components: 365 wind turbines, 250 kilometres of new roads and upgrades of existing ones, 428 kilometres of new 400 kV transmission line from the site to Nairobi, and a new village for the locals on site.
     
  • The construction period will be approximately 32 months.
     
  • The project has been eight years under way.
     
  • The budget is 630 million euros.

LAST UPDATED: 22.01.2016