Kenya's Lake Turkana Wind project receives approval after delays

Kenya's delayed Lake Turkana Wind project is predicted to begin in April 2012, improving stable energy resources to the country.

Construction of a 300 megawatt (MW) wind power project is expected to be finalized and begin in April this year, according to a senior company official.

Executive director Jenny Fletcher hopes the construction will start "within days", while registration agreements are finalized, and the project's financiers complete due diligence requirements required by the Kenyan government and guarantors.

After the anticipated Lake Turkana Wind Power project (LTWP) secured a power purchase agreement with Kenya Power & Lighting earlier this year, work was expected to begin last month. The company is a monopoly electricity distributor within Kenya, and is involved in similar projects across Africa.

The proposed construction includes building a wind farm within Loiyangalani, close to Lake Turkana in the northwest part of the country. LTWP will transmit generated power to the national grid via a 266 mile overhead line.

However, the $873.7 million project experienced delays due to necessary agreement procedures. The World Bank is one of the project's guarantors, and one of the requirements to gain permission for the build was to complete an environmental impact study. The studies are believed to be part of the delay in project finalization.

Carlo Van Wageningen, the current chairman of LTWP, anticipates no further issues in developing the venture.

"We are looking at financial close at the end of March, beginning of April and therefore groundbreaking as soon as possible after that," Van Wageningen said.

The LTWP project will consist of 365 wind turbines, each with a capacity of 850 kilowatts. Denmark's Vestas Wind Systems has agreed to supply the V52 turbines required.

Kenya currently possesses a 5.1MW installed capacity at Ngong Hills, west of Nairobi. A large proportion of Kenyna's power reserves are generated by hydroelectric plants, which can cause disruption due to frequent droughts in the country.

Due to this, Kenya is often forced to rely on diesel-powered generators, causing problems not only for the general public, but for businesses and the broader economy.

However, it is not only a matter of providing a more stable source of power for the Kenyan community. The country plans to introduce a minimum of 2000 MW of renewable energy sources by 2013.

The plant is expected to come online late 2013.

(via Reuters)

Photo Credit: Flickr

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