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General Electric launches 100MW wind power plant

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The Kinangop wind power project that General Electric plans to fund is one of the energy projects whose output is expected to reach one gigawatt (1,000MW). Photo/FILE

The Kinangop wind power project that General Electric plans to fund is one of the energy projects whose output is expected to reach one gigawatt (1,000MW). Photo/FILE  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By MOSES MICHIRA

Posted  Sunday, January 29  2012 at  18:17

American multinational General Electric’s power generating subsidiary GE Energy is planning to set up a 100 megawatt wind farm in Ngong showing growing international interest in Kenya’s lucrative electricity sector.

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The power plant is expected two be in operation in two years, about the same time that the 300MW Lake Turkana Wind Power, promoted by a consortium of local investors, is set to be completed.

People involved in the project say that GE will fund the power plant whose construction is ongoing, making Kipeto Energy one of the single largest foreign direct investment in the energy sector.

“This project (Kipeto Energy) is fully owned by GE but a local firm is handling its construction,” said a source who requested anonymity because he is not authorised to speak on behalf of the American firm.

The GE Energy chief executive for Kenya, George Njenga, did not respond to our requests for comment.

Mr Njenga said in a past interview the firm had made “big steps” towards establishing a wind power farm.

Experts in the energy sector estimate that the project will cost the New York-listed company over Sh25 billion ($300 million).
The venture will also enable GE to tap into the carbon trading from the generation of clean energy. A carbon credit is currently priced at Sh450 (4 euro).

Kaburu Mwirichia, the chief executive at the Energy Regulatory Commission, said he was aware that GE was establishing a wind power plant and was expecting an application for approval of the power purchase tariff.

Completion of the project would be critical in reducing the current shortfall in the country’s power requirements estimated at 20 per cent, pushing the power distributor to ration.

Kenya Power projects that demand for electricity will rise by 13 per cent annually over the next five years to highlight the opportunities in power generation in the country.

Consumption has since 2006 grown steadily at 5.1 per cent on average to wipe out the reserve capacity with peak demand of 1,188MW against the installed capacity of 1,713MW and the 200MW imported from Ethiopia.

Listed investment firm Centum has become the latest among private sector players that are either in power generation or prospecting in a bid to plug the shortfall.

The deficit, often made worse by erratic rainfall, has often pushed the electricity distributor to buy more expensive energy generated from diesel while it is the consumers who feel the weight of the additional costs.

It costs Kenya Power upwards of Sh21 per unit of electricity generated from diesel, more than seven times over the price of hydro power.

The entry of Kipeto Energy, the third largest wind plant after Lake Turkana and Aeolus (Kinangop and Ngong), highlights the growing need to shift towards clean means of generating power other than water.

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