Subscribe

Kenya to build Africa’s largest wind project

Kenya is planning to build the largest wind project on the continent of Africa. If the project delivers as promised, it would allow the country to spend less in fuel costs each year and allow its population more access to electricity. 

  • close
    People walk near power-generating wind turbines at the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) station in Ngong hills.
    Reuters/Thomas Mukoya/File
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

Kenya may soon be home to the largest wind project on the continent of Africa.

Danish wind company Vestas won a contract to provide 365 turbines for a 310 megawatt wind power project in Kenya. The Lake Turkana Wind Power project will be the largest of its kind in Africa, and is expected to generate 15-20 percent of Kenya’s electricity needs when completed. According to project developers, the site is a unique location that is favorable for wind. It is situated at high altitude (2,300 meters), and has consistent and predictable wind patterns.

If the project sticks to its schedule, it could have 50 to 90 megawatts up and running in 2015, with full completion by 2016. Backed by loans from the African Development Bank, the more than US$800 million Lake Turkana Wind Power project is expected to be Kenya’s largest private investment ever.

Kenya produces almost no oil or natural gas, and has to import the fossil fuels that it needs. The wind project will allow the country to avoid paying $186 million in fuel costs each year.(Related: Emerging Energy Trends In Africa)

The project is also critical because just 18 percent of Kenya’s population has access to electricity, while most Kenyans use biomass – wood, manure, and charcoal – for heating and cooking.

“We are very pleased to continue this great journey with Vestas as we progress toward our aim of reducing Kenya’s need for hydro and expensive fossil fuel-based power generation,” Mugo Kibati, the Chairman of Lake Turkana Wind Power, said in a statement. “We want to ensure that Kenya has access to low and consistent power prices, and with the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project, we can do that.”

Like this article?

Subscribe to Recharge, the Monitor's weekend digest of global energy news.
Click here for a sample.

The development of wind does not preclude Kenya’s drive for oil and gas development, however. The country is pursuing both wind and fossil fuels in an effort to develop energy supplies.

In fact, the Kenyan government is laying out ambitious plans to beef up infrastructure in an effort to kick start its oil and gas industry. The motivation comes from a 2012 discovery by British oil exploration company Tullow Oil. Tullow believes it is sitting on 600 million barrels of oil.

With these substantial reserves, other oil and gas companies have rushed in, hoping to book some major discoveries in a region that has yet to be fully explored. On December 15, a small oil exploration company called Taipan Resources signed up a rig contractor to drill on territory that it expects is holding around 251 million barrels.

And it is not just small oil companies that have flocked to Kenya. Much bigger ones like Anadarko, BG Group, Total, and Eni are considering drilling plans.

The Kenyan government’s stated priority is to build up natural gas production to provide more electricity for the country, and export any excess production.(Related: Africa and Belgium Generate the Same Amount of Electricity – But That’s Changing)

But all of the interest in Kenya’s oil and gas potential may evaporate given the recent decline in oil prices. Tullow has had to slash its exploration budget, and said that its long-term plans in Kenya could be derailed if oil prices stay below $70 per barrel. As an unexplored and relatively unknown oil region, Kenya does not rank high among the oil industry’s priorities.

Oil and gas investments are highly sensitive to the price of oil, which makes them risky when oil markets start to go haywire. And for national governments, the problems can be even worse. Gyrating prices can wreak havoc on government revenues. Nigeria and Angola have seen their currencies deteriorate as oil prices have fallen, and Ghana is working with the International Monetary Fund on financial aid as it deals with huge budget woes because of low oil prices.

But wind power does not have such problems. For Kenya, the Lake Turkana Wind Power project was deemed to be the least costly form of electricity, and is likely to be 60 percent cheaper than fossil fuel power plants. And with zero fuel costs when in operation, it won’t suffer from the price volatility.

If the project delivers as promised, there may be more like it to follow.

By Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:

Source: http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Wind-Power/Kenya-to-Develop-Africas-Largest-Wind-Project.html

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best energy bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK