The single largest private sector investment in Kenya, Lake Turkana Wind Power is a pioneering project to create the largest wind farm in Africa. The product of many years of development this massive project is now up and running and making a difference for the millions of people living in Kenya who otherwise would be relying on old fashioned energy sources such as gas, coal or wood.

LOCATION

Boasting 365 wind turbines that are spread across 40,000 acres, the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project can’t be missed. Built in the Loiyangalani District, Marsabit County this is a hub of energy generation.

From initial concept through to construction the project has had its fair share of ups and downs and with years in the making it is safe to say that the effort was definitely worth it. Now, Kenya is firmly in control of it’s own energy generation and with such a high proportion of the country’s energy now being generated through a clean source it is a huge step in the overall direction of the country’s plans to completely sustainable.

For the fast developing country, the wind farm is also a statement for the country’s attitude towards forward thinking and stepping firmly into the twenty first century.  Each turbine can generate a  capacity of 850kW which is over  300,000kW in total which also represents roughly 17% of the country’s total daytime energy demands and up to 30% of what is generated at night.

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A PROJECT COMPLETED

The project at Lake Turkana is no completed but has been generating power since September 2018 and on July 19th 2019, HE Uhuru Kenyatta presided over its official inauguration.

This constituted a proud day for Kenya and the event was attended by the very who’s who in the Kenyan industry. These included national and county government leaders, key members of the Diplomatic Corps, investors, lenders, project contractors, and representatives of KETRACO and LTWP.

During this ceremony, the president commissioned the Loiyangalani to Suswa transmission line. This line is a  435km connection from the turbines farm to the national grid. To best take advantage of being in one of the windiest areas in the world, the farm is a distance from the nearest city in a location where the wind blows for six months of the year from the northwest- known as the Kaskazi- and for six months from the southwest- known as the Kui. It also benefits significantly from the Turkana jet stream. The Turkana blows steadily twelve months of the year  in the low elevation region of the Turkana-Marsabit Corridor. This constant stream is aided by the presence of Mount Kulal to the North and Mount Nyiro to the South, which act to produce a venturi effect. As ever, it is all about location, location, location.

CONCERNS

Unsurprisingly, with a project of this size there has been some concerns on the impact of the wind farm on the land and the various cultures that exist there. While its presence and energy generation does benefit many Kenyan, the farm is located in an area which is home to many nomadic groups and there is the ever present preservation indigenous wildlife to consider.

Of the 40,000 acres on which the wind farm sits, much of it has been left open for the nomadic tribes to still use and only 0.2 % of it is actually made up of physical structures. Of course, the more physical structures there are the less wind is captured by the turbines.

These permanent structures include 365 wind turbines, employee quarters and a substation  which are fenced for privacy and safety. The remaining 99.8% is open to public, including the nomadic population for settlement, grazing and water points. This is an important factor as Kenya’s natural heritage and culture is too valuable to sacrifice purely to meet their energy game plans. 

DEVELOPERS

In 2006, KP&P Africa B.V and Aldwych International, co-partnered the farm after lengthly discussions and it received additional financial support from  the Investment Fund for Developing Countries. Vestas Eastern Africa Limited, Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation Ltd, KLP Norfund Investments AS and Sandpiper all had a hand and played a part in the creation of this monumental project.

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

From the start the plan was not only to generate clean, sustainable energy to the country, but also to improve live the lives of those people living in the communities around the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project.

Winds Of Change is their corporate and social responsibility arm and they were responsible for undertaking the community development projects around three particular areas. These included projects to improve the quality of education and vocational training; access to a better quality of water and sanitation and finally access to improved health services. Over the twenty one year project life of LTWP that WoC will contribute in the region of €10 million to the area and the people living there.

CONTRIBUTIONS

While there are many projects being worked on at the moment with more in the pipeline, some of the Foundation’s contributions to improving education in the area include the construction of two science laboratories at Nyiro Girls Secondary School and Korole Boy’s Secondary School, two classrooms at the Loiyangalani Youth Polytechnic, an extension to the facilities of Sarima Primary School and a dormitory at Nyiro Boys Secondary School.

They have also provided desks, books and pens to 25 primary schools in Laisamis Constituency; and arranged educational school trips to the wind farm. Part of their sustainability plan is to have the right calibre of locally trained engineering staff to be able to work the project in the future.

DEVELOPMENT IS KEY

Developing the community on all levels is important and the access to healthcare in the Constituency was important as the existing medical centres were few, too spaced out with inadequate facilities. To meet the all-to-real health needs of the communities the projects were instigated to construction dispensaries, solar electricity stations and the construction of sanitary facilities to improve the general level of health in the area.

Another area that was worked hard on was water. Due to the dry and arid nature of the area, WoC established water points in Arge, Laga el Fereji, Gatab, Ntil, Lonjorin, Larachi, Sarima, Illaut and Olturot which have helped supply water to settlements that have thousands of residents. They also constructed water troughs to provide water for livestock which are highly valued among the nomadic communities around the Wind Farm.

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IN CONCLUSION

Without a doubt, LTWP can be considered a playmaker in Kenya’s renewable energy production and they stand as an example of forward thinking, future proofing, successful project execution and putting their communities first. Once a country better known for its safaris, wildlife and rural communities, now Kenya has been transformed into a pioneer of African sustainability.

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