, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 21- The first 50 Megawatts (MW) of power from the proposed wind power project in Marsabit District could be on-stream by late 2013, heralding the onset of cheaper, cleaner energy in the country.
Carlo Van Wageningen, the chairman of Lake Turkana Wind Power Consortium that is running the project revealed on Friday that all the necessary ground work had been covered and they were only awaiting their term loans to be concluded before the construction can begin in March or April.
“If all goes well, the first 50MW can be online by the fourth quarter of 2013 and the full wind farm will be delivering power by the fourth quarter of 2014,” he said.
The Lake Turkana Wind Power which is estimated to cost Sh70 billion, is a unique project which is a first in many fronts. It is first project of that nature to be established in Kenya and in Africa; it is the first and the largest single private investment in Kenya’s history.
Upon full optimization, the project will provide some 300 MW to the national grid which is equivalent to over 20 percent of the current installed electricity generating capacity.
The project will comprise 365 wind turbines -each with a capacity of 850 kilowatt, which are carefully placed on a 40,000 acre piece of land to maximise the output which is expected to be between 175MW and 300MW.
As part of preparatory works, the consortium is not only concerned with getting the wind farm that is part of a larger 150,000 acre parcel of land ready, but also ensuring that the infrastructure around the area is conducive.
The partners have forked out an estimated Sh35 million to upgrade the existing 204 kilometer road from Laisamis to the wind farm site and construction of three flood bridges among other projects that will help facilitate their work.
The partners include Aldwych International of the United Kingdom, South Africa’s Idustrial Development Corporation each with a 25 percent stake. KP&P who are the original promoters of Netherland holds an 18.75 percent share while NORFUND of Norway and Denmark’s Vestas wind systems have a 12.5 percent share each. The remaining stake of 6.25 percent belongs to IFU, which is the Danish Development Finance Institution.
The government through the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Ltd (Ketraco) is constructing a double circuit 400kv transmission line that will be used to evacuate the produced power to the national grid which is 428 kilometers in Suswa.
The consortium has also concluded a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Kenya Power that will see it sell energy to the utility firm at a tariff cost of 7.52 cent euros or Sh8.34 per kilowatt hour over the next 20 years.
“That price of power compares very well with geothermal and it represents the cheaper wind energy tariff in the world. It’s a ‘take or pay’ which means you have to buy the energy as we produce it because we cannot store wind,” Wageningen explained.
Energy stakeholders are hoping that it has set the stage for the construction of other projects that will enable the country to exploit its wind power potential which is estimated to be about 2,000MW.
It will also help to open up the North Eastern province to both social and economic development.