Construction of the delayed Lake Turkana Wind Power Project should begin in the first quarter of next year with a funding shortfall to be filled by the end of 2014
The delayed wind power project at Lake Turkana in northern Kenya, will have a capacity of 300MW thereby helping to plug a power shortfall in the country that has, in conjunction with an ageing national grid, resulted in regular blackouts. Construction of the project should begin early next year with funding shortfall to be filled by the end of 2014.
“Q1 (first quarter) next year we should be in construction” said Christian Wright, the regional director for Aldwych International. “Then it’s about 23 months to the first 50MW of power, then about another seven months or so to get the full 300MW.”
The European Investment Bank has approved 200 million euros worth of financial support for the project leaving 120 million euros still to be approved by the end of the year, the target for financial closure. The project was due to start generating power in June 2011 but financial difficulties have meant constant delay.
The project will consist of around 365 wind turbines supplied by the Danish Vestas company, each of which will be capable of producing 850KW of power. It will allow the landlocked Great Rift Valley region to be connected to the rest of Kenya through improved infrastructure including roads, fibre-optic cables and electrification.
Kenya is aiming to quadruple its existing power output by 2017 in order to promote faster economic growth and is hoping to add 5,000MW of power to the country’s current 1,664MW. Although part of this extra capacity will come from liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal, it will also include geothermal power and wind in order to wean the country off unreliable, rain-fed, hydro-electric power. In this way Kenya hopes to reduce its power costs by 37 percent to 9 cents per kilowatt hour, according to Kenyan government projections.
“This zero-emission project will contribute in filling the energy gap in the country, enhancing energy diversification and saving 16,000,000 tons of CO2 emissions compared to a fossil fuel fired power plant” added Mr Gabriel Negatu, Africa Development Bank Regional Director for the East Africa Resource Centre. “The project will be implemented by Lake Turkana Wind Power, a special purpose vehicle, created in September 2006. The group of investors includes Kemperman Paardekooper & Partners Africa, Aldwych International Ltd., the Investment Fund for Developing Countries of Denmark, Norfund, and Vestas Wind Systems AS”
Mr Negatu went on to say that the Kenyan government will be constructing a 428 kilometre transmission line in order to transfer power from the wind farm to the national grid, supported by finance from the Spanish government. The Africa Development Bank (AfDB) has taken a lead role in developing what will be the largest wind power project in Africa including building confidence among potential investors with regard to the mitigation of environmental and governance risks and attracting additional investors such as commercial banks.
The project will also increase employment in the local area during the construction phase and the upgrading of the local road network will also improve access to markets and business opportunities for local communities in what is currently a poor and deprived area.