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KenGen to build mega wind power plant

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Wind turbines at the Lake Turkana Wind Power project at Loiyangalani in Marsabit County. FILE PHOTO | NMG

KenGen will develop the second biggest wind power plant in Kenya, with an initial capacity of 200 megawatts (MW) as the firm spearheads the country’s efforts of fully greening the national grid by 2030.

The power producer revealed that it is finalising consultations with the local communities in Marsabit County over land acquisition for the multi-billion plant whose construction is expected to start in 2026.

The plant will become the second biggest wind farm in Kenya after the Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP) which has a capacity of 310 MW.

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Kenya is seeking to fully run a clean national electricity grid by 2030 and is betting on increased generation from renewable sources such as wind and geothermal to phase out the dirty thermal plants whose electricity is also the costliest.

KenGen owns a 26MW wind farm in Ngong Hills and sold 57 Gigawatt hours of electricity generated from the plant to Kenya Power in the year that ended in June.

“It (project) was initially targeting 100 MW, but we upgraded it after the feasibility studies. Phase one will produce 200 MW and the generation will increase going into the three other phases of the project,” KenGen told Business Daily.

French fund Agence Française de Development (AFD) is said to have shown interest in funding the project whose total cost remains undisclosed.

AFD is one of KenGen’s leading partners, having given the firm some Sh7.79 billion (50.95 million euros) through a combination of on-lent and direct loans as of June for the construction of the Olkaria I and IV and Olkaria II Unit 3 units.

Currently, the LTWP in Loiyangalani Turkana County, which was connected to the national grid in September 2018, is the biggest wind plant in Kenya and Africa.

KenGen’s plant looks set to topple LTWP given that the generation capacity is tipped to hit around 800 MW upon completion of phase four.

The State-owned power producer had an installed capacity of 1,904.58 MW at its geothermal, hydro, wind and thermal plants as at the end of June this year.

The firm sold 8,027 Gigawatt hours (GWh) to Kenya Power in the year ended June or 60 percent of the total electricity supplied by all power producers in the period.

Geothermal plants accounted for 63.4 percent or 5,090 Gigawatt hours (GWh) of the electricity that KenGen sold to Kenya Power in the review period followed by hydro at 31.4 percent (2,520 GWh).

The costly and dirty thermal plants accounted for four percent or 360 GWh while wind accounted for less than one percent (57 GWh).

The wind farm to be located in Marsabit County, alongside increased generation from geothermal and hydro plants are set to significantly grow its electricity sales to Kenya Power.

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“The company is pursuing an ambitious expansion plan to inject 2.5 GW into the grid by 2030,” KenGen said in its latest annual report.

Kenya has set an ambitious target of fully relying on electricity from clean sources by 2030 as part of efforts to cut environmental pollution caused by carbon emissions from thermal power plants.

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