Lake Turkana wind farm project runs ahead of schedule

Lake Turkana Wind Power
The wind farm has a full capacity of 310MW to be generated by 365 turbines. PHOTO/KIMAMO KABII (LTWP)
Construction on the 310MW Lake Turkana wind farm at Loiyangalani in northern Kenya is running ahead of schedule, with the facility primed to generate its first 132 megawatts (MW) of electricity next month.

Installation of 155 giant turbines at the wind farm, which kicked off in March, is set for completion in a fortnight – making the facility ready for use, but delays in construction of a transmission line connecting the wind farm to the national grid is expected to hold up the venture.

According to the project’s general manager Phylip Leferink, work is being done around the clock to ensure the Sh72 billion project is completed on schedule.

“In principle we will be ready to dispatch the power end of this month,” Mr Leferink said, adding that the wind farm will add 17 per cent of clean energy to the national grid.

The Lake Turkana Wind Power Project has a full capacity of 310MW to be generated by 365 turbines by July 2017, enough to power one million homes.

The first 132MW is more than twice the 50MW that the wind farm hoped to generate by end of last September, meaning the project is way ahead of schedule.

The project, which will be the largest in Africa on completion, is hoped to further diversify Kenya’s source of power as well as reduce reliance on electricity generated by hydro dams.

The wind farm has a 20-year contract to sell energy to Kenya Power at Sh8.6 per kilowatt/hour (kWh) which is nearly half of the Sh16 that consumers are paying on increased use of fuel-driven generators to feed the national grid.

The electricity will be transmitted to the national grid via a double-circuit 400KV-428km overhead transmission line that is currently under construction by the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) with concessional funding from the Spanish government.

Work on the transmission line has been delayed by land compensation issues in the areas it traverses like Marsabit, Laikipia and Nyandarua.

The failure to complete the line by January will attract a monthly fine of Sh700 million to be paid by consumers through their power bills to the developers.

Lake Turkana wind farm, which sits on 40,000 acres of land, is owned by a consortium of investors, with UK-based Aldwych International as the largest investor in the project with a 30.7 per cent stake.

US-based search company Google holds a 12.5 per cent stake in the project after injecting Sh4 billion in October last year.

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