Google is eyeing Turkana wind project

A turbine base under construction in Marsabit on January 26, 2016
A turbine base under construction in Marsabit on January 26, 2016. PHOTO: NATION/SALATON NJAU
Google is in early talks to buy a stake in the Lake Turkana Wind Project – a Sh72 billion, 40,000-acre venture in northern Kenya, as it moves to increase its investments in clean energy.

The transaction, if it goes through, will see Google becoming a minority shareholder in Africa’s largest wind farm, according to a CNBC report.

Google declined to comment on the matter, but Turkana representative Rizwan Fazal told CNBC that “Google is not involved in LTWP at present and LTWP has no agreement of any nature with Google.”

Though most of Google’s clean energy investments have been within the United States, the company has invested in Africa before — most notably in 2013 when it invested $12 million (Sh1.15 billion) in South Africa’s Jasper Power Project, one of the largest solar installations on the continent.

While Google’s investment in the Lake Turkana Wind Project would likely be small — in the tens of millions of dollars, according to the people with knowledge of the talks—it would be a vote of confidence for investors considering Kenyan energy market entry.

The investment could also help secure a $250 million (Sh24 billion) investment based on President Barack Obama’s Power Africa initiative.

To qualify for the financing, the Turkana project would require “meaningful involvement of the US private sector – which Google’s investment would likely satisfy.

The Turkana project, which got underway in April, will sit on 40,000 acres in Loiyangalani, Marsabit County, and will feature 365 Vestas V52-850kW wind turbines capable of producing 310MW of low cost electricity.

Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP), a subsidiary of KP&P – a Netherlands-based firm that builds wind farms, is solely responsible for the financing, construction and operation of the wind farm.

READ: PROFILE: Turkana Wind Farm Project

The firm will transmit 300MW to the national grid through a 428 km overhead line that is being built by the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company with concessional funding from the Spanish government.

The electricity will be bought by Kenya Power at a tariff of Sh9 per kilowatt hour over a 20-year period in accordance with a signed Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).

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