Kenya inches closer to sufficient power with the arrival of first turbine shipment

Kenya is a step closer to power sufficiency as the first batch of turbines for the 310-megawatt Lake Turkana Wind Power plant has arrived the country’s Mombasa port.

“The foundations for the first 30 turbines are ready, as soon as the turbines arrive in Sarima; the task at hand will be to hoist the turbines,” Business Daily Africa quoted Phylip Leferink, Lake Turkana Wind Power general manager to have said in a statement.

The 30 turbines are expected to allow the injection of 50 MW of wind power to the national grid in September. More than 300 turbines are still being expected to ensure the full 310-megawatt capacity of the power-generation project.

The controversial project is located on indigenous pastoralist land on the eastern shore of Lake Turkana, the world’s largest alkaline lake. It will be the largest inward investment into Kenya since its independence, and if completed will be the largest wind farm in Africa.

UK-based company Aldwych International is the single largest investor in the Sh70 billion ($691 million) wind project with a 30.7 percent stake. Google, which pumped in Sh4 billion last October  has a 12.5 percent stake. Other investors include Norway’s Norfund, FinnFund, KP&P BV Africa, among others.

Electricity from the power plant will cost Sh8.6 per unit (8.5 US cents), making it the third cheapest power source in Kenya after geothermal energy at Sh7 per unit and hydropower at Sh3 per unit. Thermal generators cost Sh18.

LTWP will sell all the power it generates to Kenya Power at Sh8.6 under a 20-year power purchase agreement, an arrangement that has faced criticisms.

The World Bank had in 2012 withdrew its support for the project, citing reasons similar to what critics of the project have offered. Bank officials allegedly had concerns that the electricity produced would outweigh demand. The World Bank Group’s country director in Kenya, Mr. Johannes Zutt, stated that Kenya could be left with excess power on the grid worth up to Sh8.5 billion per year. However, other lenders rose in support of the project which is now expected to be ready for commissioning by 2018.