Power project on course as it secures land and funding

A wind farm in the USA. Kenya aims to tap wind turbine technology for reliable and clean power./ Reuters

Lake Turkana Wind Power has acquired enough money and land to enable it begin supplying the national grid with clean power in the next two years.

The LTWP is set to be the largest wind power project in the country, with a capacity to produce 300 megawatts of power, more than three times the current installed emergency power projects.

Also on the cards is Gitson wind and solar projects which is also being rolled out to cash in on the global shift to green energy resources.

Already armed with a Sh31.4bn loan arranged by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and a 99-year lease agreement from the Marsabit County Council for the 150,000 acres of land where it intends to build its wind farm, the KTWP a few days ago announced it has signed an exclusivity deal with Danish turbines supplier, Vestas.

This means that LTWP has already zeroed in on Vestas Wind Systems as its sole supplier of at least 353 wind turbines, each with a capacity of 850 KW, which it intends to erect on its wind farm to harness the 300MW of power for national use.

The firm hopes the latest wind turbine technology will provide reliable and continuous clean power that will ease pressure on hydro power sources.

“We are ready to sign the actual agreement with Vestas in October for the supply of the V52 turbines,” said LTWP’s chairman Carlo Van Wageningen.

Already, LTWP has advertised for construction tenders to put up a 428 km (266 mile) power line and four substations to link the wind farm situated in the windy Loiyangalani area in north western Kenya.

According to the firm’s own estimation, the project’s initial production will start in June, 2011 and will be upgraded to full production of 300 MW a year later.

Earlier, the AfDB’s manager for Infrastructure Finance Division, Hela Cheikhrouhou, said the project’s completion would increase Kenya’s installed capacity by 25 per cent, contributing about 12.5 per cent of additional capacity needed by 2020.

Mr Raphael Khazenzi, a principal engineer at the energy ministry projects that of a total of the 1395MW that the country intends to develop from least cost energy sources by 2015, wind turbines have a potential of supplying the 305 megawatts.

“We have developed wind map for the whole country and while several companies have shown interest in developing the resources at various sites.

We still invite more private sector investments to realise potential of windpower electricity generation,” he said.

Apart from wind, the government is also renewable energy sources such as geothermal, bio-fuel, biomass and the use of solid waste as environmentally friendly and affordable energy sources that can plug the current deficit.

Plans have even been alluded to by the government to establish a Green Energy Facility to offer interest-free long-term loans to firms that opt to replace conventional high-cost energy generation with low-cost green energy alternatives.

Investment in green energy opens a new window for the country to participate in the lucrative carbon trade.

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