TURKANA WIND POWER PROJECT CLEARS FINAL HURDLES
A power project tapping into the wind, a renewable resource in this part of Kenya, is expected to break ground later this year. The green power project will be the second significant one of its kind in Kenya, with the first one erected on the Ngong Hills outside Nairobi.
The Kenyan government finally signed an agreement with the promoters last week, assuring financiers that the power produced will be purchased, either by the Kenya Power and Lightning Company or by government directly, ending nagging doubts that the hard work done to this point may come to naught.
A political risk guarantee document was also part of the agreement, opening the door to the lenders to provide the pre-financing needed to order the wind turbines and move towards ground breaking scheduled for October this year. The project promoters on the occasion informed the general public that they had already raised the required 30 percent of the overall project cost and would now be able to secure the balance of 70 percent from development banks. Once ready, the wind power plant will produce 300 MW of electricity and the connection lines to the national grid will be constructed alongside the work on the turbines. First production is expected to be 50 MW by the end of 2013 while the full 300 MW production ought to be available a year later.
Kenya, as other East African countries, has been experiencing at times crippling power shortages, when in particular the hydro electric power plants had to reduce output due to lack of water, while in other cases poor maintenance of power plants has led to shut downs and subsequent load shedding, which affected private households and industries alike.
A second wind power plant is planned not too far away, due to eventually produce 350 MW of green and clean electricity, helping to improve Kenya’s emission foot print while substantially reducing the electricity production deficit which had troubled manufacturers, hotels and other businesses to no end, besides the very high cost of ‘alternative’ thermal energy, considering the current prices for diesel or heavy fuel oils.
One other side effect will be the reduced willingness of Kenya to buy electricity from neighbouring Ethiopia, where the Kibe III dam project threatens the inflow of water into an already greatly reduced Lake Turkana and where environmental concerns by leading experts on the matter are habitually trampled and yapped upon by sycophants and regime cronies, who will most benefit for such ‘developments’.
Watch this space.