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Turkana wind project back in motion

An impression of the proposed wind farm in Turkana. PHOTO/

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 16 – The much-touted establishment of Africa’s biggest wind power project in Turkana could soon be back on track as negotiations with the financiers got back on track.

Talks between the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Lake Turkana Wind Power company are now entering the final stages, according to the firm’s Chairman Carlo Van Wageningen who explained that delays were occasioned by stringent conditions set by the financier and which had to be fulfilled.

Wageningen said the conditions are related to risks of the project collapsing either during the construction stage or even after full completion.

AfDB was concerned that Kenya Power would incur heavy penalties if it was unable to take up power from the wind farm in cases such as faulty transmission lines.

The financier had also questioned whether Kenya Power could guarantee the purchase of all the power produced at the wind farm as indicated in the contract between Lake Turkana Wind Power and the power distribution company.

“The lenders had their own requirements. They wanted to see more in depth analysis on system stability because Kenya has relatively weak grid systems by international standards. So they wanted to be assured that 300 megawatts can indeed come to Kenya and be managed without collapsing, “said Wageningen

In the recent past World Bank has been blamed for the delay after the government requested it to act as a guarantor for the project, but the Bretton Woods institution insisted that it first needed to conduct its own analysis of the project.

Wageningen said the World Bank has however promised to support the project by insuring all the risks a step that has given confidence to the financier.

The power firm’s boss who had earlier said the project may kick off by the end of 2013, due the delays, has hopes that it will start earlier after the investors expressed their faith in the project.

Initially this project was supposed to kick off in June this year.

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“Under AfDB we have two commercial banks from South Africa, the European Investment Bank and others. In short AfDB is in charge of bringing together all the others so that we don’t have to sign so many letters of loan agreements,” he said.

The project being one of the biggest in the country is expected to cost close to Sh75.5 billion. It will provide 300MW low cost wind power to the Kenya national grid, equivalent to approximately 20 percent of the current installed electricity generating capacity.

The firm site of the project covers 40,000 acres and is located in Loyangalani, Marsabit County.

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