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US firm to set up Turkana wind power plant

A section of the Ngong wind farm in Kajiado
A section of the Ngong wind farm in Kajiado County. Solar Wind Energy Tower and Elperta Industries will develop a 1,250MW power plant in Turkana. PHOTO | FILE 

US company Solar Wind Energy Tower (Swet) has signed a deal to develop a 1,250MW power plant in Turkana County, boosting Kenya’s access to clean energy.

The Maryland-based firm announced that it had entered into an agreement with Elperta Industries of Greece to develop a power plant, known as tower facility, in Turkana for an undisclosed amount.

Under the agreement, Elperta Industries will finance and construct the power station using Swet’s patented technology. In exchange, the US firm will earn royalties from electricity sales generated from the plant.

“Each (such) facility is estimated to have an installed capacity of up to 1,250 megawatts,” said Swet in a statement. Given that the amount of power to be generated is almost four times that to be produced by the Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP) project which will cost Sh70 billion when completed, the venture is likely to cost a lot more.

Currently, the LTWP project is Africa’s biggest wind farm. Swet chief executive Ron Pickett said in the statement that the company had already identified a site where the first plant will be put up.

“The company has been in discussions with Elperta and two other potential developers since last fall — focused on the Lake Turkana region, an area the government has targeted for energy projects. We have evaluated this site and deemed it adequate to support (the) project,” said Mr Pickett.

The firm, however, did not give project timeliness. Wind power is expected to account for 11 per cent of Kenya’s power mix over the next three years in line with the government’s target of adding 5,000MW by 2018.

Currently, wind power makes up about one per cent of the electricity produced annually for the national grid.

Capacity

“We have developed internal capacity to implement the wind project. We see a lot of potential in wind power. It is likely to become a big thing in Kenya,” said KenGen chief executive Albert Mugo earlier in the month when signing financing deals for a 400MW wind power plant in Meru County.

The listed power producer expects the first phase of the Meru-based wind farm to be completed in December 2017.

KenGen generates 25.5MW from its Ngong-based wind farm and plans to invest up to Sh130 billion in renewable energy over the next four years.

Power and infrastructure firm TransCentury is putting up a $130 million (Sh13 billion) plant in Limuru, Kiambu County.

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