Kenya to host sub-Saharan Africa’s largest windfarm
- 28th May 2012
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The Lake Turkana Wind Power project aims to provide reliable, low-cost wind power to the Kenya national grid, allowing the country to reduce its dependency on hydroelectric power
Construction on the euro 582m Lake Turkana Wind Power project (LTWP) is due to start in June, pending the finalisation of risk guarantees from financial institutions IDA and MIGA, both part of the World Bank, according to company officials.
“The World Bank Group has been working with the Kenyan government and … Kenya Power on this since August last year. They are completing their internal approval processes including the due diligence on the project. They are well advanced and we hope they will have completed and reached their board approvals in the next two months,” Carlo Van Wageningen, head of LTWP, told the Guardian in an email response to questions.
The ambitious project, which is backed by the African Development Bank, marks the largest single private investment in Kenya’s history, and should allow the country to diversify from hydroelectric power, which provides around 60% of its electricity needs but is prone to drought and irregular rainfall, leading to blackouts and shortages that dampen economic growth.
Only about 18% of Kenyan households have access to power, according to the United Nations, and demand is increasing. Kenya’s peak electricity demand has risen to 1,200 megawatts, compared with 780MW in 2002, due to economic growth.
The government is committed to diversifying its power sources. Kenya is the first African country to tap geothermal power, harnessing power from steam released by hot rocks beneath the Rift valley. The abundant sun and wind are also being harnessed in a variety of projects: of these, the Lake Turkana project is the most audacious, both because of the scale and the location.