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Google seeks to buy stake in Lake Turkana wind farm

Lake Turkana Wind Power
Lake Turkana Wind Power project in Marsabit County. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

American technology giant Google is among a group of global firms seeking to invest in Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP), Kenya’s largest private sector project that was officially commissioned in July.

The wind farm, with a 310 megawatt (MW) capacity, has attracted the attention of investors interested in green energy projects.

Google’s interest in LTWP has been disclosed by Norwegian investment company Norfund which has a six percent stake in the power plant.

“Now that the plant is operational, more international investors, including Google, are looking to invest,” Norfund says in its latest annual report.

Besides the online advertising business, Google also runs other ventures including investments in renewable energy projects.

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The conglomerate has invested billions of dollars in solar and wind power plants with a total capacity of 5,475 MW to generate returns besides contributing to the effort in fighting climate change.

“In 2017, we became the first company of our size to match our entire annual electricity consumption with renewable energy (and then we did it again in 2018),” Google’s chief executive Sundar Pichai said in blog published in September.

“As a result, we became the largest corporate buyer of renewable energy in the world.”

He added that the multinational now has an interest in 52 renewable energy projects around the world, committing more than $7 billion (Sh712 billion) in construction that will create thousands of new jobs.

Norfund’s stake in LTWP, the largest wind farm of its kind in Africa, was acquired in 2013 at a cost equivalent to Sh1.2 billion.

LTWP cost a total of €623 million (Sh70.3 billion), with debt investors providing 70 percent of the amount or €436 million (Sh49.2 billion).

Shareholders, including Norfund, the Danish Climate Fund, Sandpiper and Finnfund, provided the rest of the capital.

The project has been credited with boosting the country’s electricity supply while reducing reliance on the more expensive diesel-powered plants that harm the environment through pollution.

LTWP, whose construction started in 2014, is estimated to account for 17 percent of the Kenya’s installed capacity.

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