Construction finally starts on Sh70bn Turkana wind farm

Wind farm
The wind farm will transmit 300MW to the national grid. PHOTO/FILE
Construction has finally begun on the long-awaited 310MW wind farm on the south eastern shore of Lake Turkana in Marsabit County, northern Kenya.

The Sh70 billion Lake Turkana wind farm, which is touted as the largest wind power project in Africa, will feature 365 Vestas V52-850kW wind turbines capable of generating 310MW of low cost electricity.

The wind farm will occupy 40,000 acres in Loiyangalani district stretching from 450 metres at the shore of Lake Turkana to 2,300 metres above sea level at the top of Mt Kulal. The region has strong wind that blows predictably at an average speed of 11 metres per second.

The Lake Turkana Wind Power Project (LTWP), a subsidiary of KP&P – a Netherlands-based company that builds wind farms, is solely responsible for the financing, construction and operation of the wind farm.

The company will transmit 300MW to the national grid through a 428 km overhead line that is being built by the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company with funding from the Spanish government.

The electricity will be sold to Kenya Power, the country’s sole power distributor, at a tariff of Sh9 per kilowatt hour over a 20-year period in accordance with a signed Power Purchase Agreement.

Turkana wind farm project, which was due to start generating power in June 2011, suffered a major setback in October 2012 after the World Bank declined to provide guarantees to its global financiers.

However in May this year, the wind farm received a lifeline when 11 global financiers among them the Africa Development Bank, Standard Bank, PTA Bank, European Investment Bank and East Africa Development Bank signed a loan for the project.

The wind farm is expected to be fully operational in 2017.