Ethiopia opens largest wind farm in Africa

A huge new wind farm is online in Ethiopia, but it's just one of the country's big energy plans.
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor

It's the second wind farm in Ethiopia, but the newly opened Ashegoda Wind Farm is the largest in Africa.

The 210 million euro project, built by the French firm Vergnet SA with loans from BNP Paribas and the French Development Agency, is a 84-turbine wind farm and just one part of an ambitious energy plan by the East African country to diversify its energy resources, reduce crippling blackouts, and even make some money.

In the next three to five years, Reuters reports, Ethiopia plans to increase its generating capacity from 2,000 MW to 10,000 MW. The bulk of that increase will come from the controversial, under-construction 6,000 MW Grand Renaissance Dam that is being built on the Nile, which will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa when it is finished.

But wind is also playing a role in the country's energy portfolio (as it is in the coming decades around the world). The plan is to boost wind energy generation to 800 MW, or 8 percent of total generation. Wind power currently produces 2.6 percent of electricity worldwide.

The plan isn't just to be energy independent, however. Ethiopia wants to be an energy exporter in the region. It's an odd position to be in for a country that regularly struggles with blackouts, but one that it is embracing with all these new energy projects. Ethiopia hopes to export energy to seven countries in East Africa and it's building billion-dollar transition lines to make it happen, including a $1.26 billion power line to neighboring Kenya that has a 2,000 MW capacity.

Estimates put Ethiopia's hydropower potential at 45,000 MW, its geothermal potential at 5,000 MW, and its wind power potential as the third-largest in Africa.

Read more: Reuters

(h/t Grist)

Photo: Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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