Wayleave dispute denies Kenyans 102MW wind power


From left: Lake Turkana Wind Power chairman Mugo Kibati, Carlo Van Wageningen and Treasury secretary Henry Rotich during the signing of an agreement on management of the power project in Nairobi recently. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA

Lake Turkana Wind Power Project is ahead of schedule with the first 102 megawatts (MW) of electricity expected to be ready for use next month.

However, the wayleave standoff has prevented construction of a transmission line required to move the cheap power to the consumer.

The developers of the wind farm, the largest in Africa, yesterday said they have installed 120 wind turbines within five months since March, paving the way for delivery of a third of the project’s total capacity from September.

The 102MW is double the 50MW that was expected to be ready by next month as outlined in the contract agreement with the government. “We are ahead of schedule,” said Caroline Ongeri, the deputy general manager of Lake Turkana Wind Power Ltd, the developers.

Electricity from the wind farm will cost Sh8.6 per unit (8.5 US cents), which is cheaper than the Sh19 that independent power producers charge for electricity from diesel generators.

Land compensation headwinds

The 428km high-voltage line was approved in August 2014 but has been hit by land compensation headwinds in the areas it traverses like Nyandarua, Laikipia and Marsabit, resulting in delays.

Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco), which is overseeing the construction of the line, said that work is 52 per cent complete and expects to finish the exercise by end of December.

Failure to complete the transmission line by January next year will attract a monthly fine of Sh700 million to be paid by consumers through their bills to the developers.

READ: Power consumers to Sh700m for delayed Turkana power grid

The fine is technically known as capacity charge and aims to compensate investors for their expense on energy projects when their electricity is not supplied to the grid for sale to consumers.

The wind farm in Marsabit County has a full capacity of 310MW to be generated by 365 turbines by July next year. This is enough to power one million homes, according to the developers. Each turbine has a capacity of 0.85MW, bringing the project’s total capacity to 310.25MW.

The farm sits on 40,000 acres of land in an area that receives steady winds throughout the year.

It will rival other big African wind schemes in Morocco and Egypt and change Kenya’s power generation mix that mainly comprises expensive thermal generators (Sh19 per unit), geothermal (Sh7) and hydro power (Sh3).

Though hydropower is the cheapest, it is unreliable since it depends on heavy rainfall. Kenya aims to expand installed capacity to over 6,000MW by 2020 from the current 2,333MW to light more homes and power growth.

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