Modern wind energy plant in rural scenery.Image via Wikipedia

Herders won over by project to meet rising demand and to end blackouts

NAIROBI - One of the hottest places in the world is to become the site of Africa's most ambitious venture in the battle against global warming.

Some 365 giant wind turbines are to be installed in desert around Lake Turkana in northern Kenya, creating the biggest windfarm on the continent.

Windfarms could help meet surging demand for electricity in Kenya

When completed in 2012, the £533 million ($1.24 billion) project will have a capacity of 300MW, a quarter of Kenya's current installed power and one of the highest proportions of wind energy to be fed in a national grid anywhere in the world.

Until now, only north African countries such as Morocco and Egypt have harnessed wind power for commercial purposes. But projects are beginning to bloom south of the Sahara as governments realise that harnessing the vast wind potential can efficiently meet a surging demand for electricity and end blackouts.

Ethiopia has commissioned a £190 million, 120MW farm in Tigray region, representing 15 per cent of the current electricity capacity, and intends to build several more. In March, South Africa, which relies heavily on coal, became the first African country to announce a feed-in tariff for wind power, whereby customers generating electricity receive cash for selling power to the grid.

Kenya is trying to lead the way. Besides the Turkana project, which is being backed by the African Development Bank, private investors have proposed establishing a second windfarm near the tourist town of Naivasha.

In the Ngong hills near Nairobi, Masai herders and elite long-distance athletes used to braving the frigid winds along the escarpment already have towering company: Six 50-m turbines from the Danish company Vestas that were installed last month and will add 5.1MW to the national grid from August.

Kenya's electricity is already very green by global standards. Nearly 75 per cent of state power company KenGen's capacity comes from hydropower, and a further 11 per cent from geothermal


Fewer than one in five Kenyans has access to electricity but demand is rising quickly, particularly in rural areas and from businesses. At the same time, increasingly erratic rainfall patterns have affected hydroelectricity output. Within five years, the government wants to drastically reduce the reliance on hydropower by adding 500MW of geothermal power and 800MW of wind energy to the grid.

If the Lake Turkana Wind Power project succeeds, the Dutch consortium estimates that there is the potential for the farm to generate a further 2,700MW of power, some of which could be exported, bringing additional financial advantage to the country. THE GUARDIAN

From TODAY, World – Wednesday, 29-Jul-2009

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


Post a Comment