Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Aug 05

Africa’s biggest wind farm coming up in Kenya

Posted in Energy Industry | Wind Farms | Wind Power

Africa Wind Farm Some of the African regions are so hot that unless you’re are accustomed to that climate it is not possible for your to survive. Extreme temperatures also generate extreme winds and perhaps this is the reason wind farms have great potential in Africa. Some 365 giant wind turbines will be installed in desert around Lake Turkana in northern Kenya to create the biggest wind farm in Africa. Once completed — tentatively in 2012 — the £533m project, backed by the African Development Bank, will have a capacity of 300MW, a quarter of Kenya’s current installed power and one of the highest proportions of wind energy to be fed in a national grid anywhere in the world.

“Kenya’s natural fuel should come from the wind, hot underground rock and the sun, whose potential has barely even been considered,” said Nick Nuttall, spokesman for the United Nations Environment Programme.

A good thing about such projects is that after the setup cost the energy is almost free.

Blessed with one of the highest wind velocities in the world and fiercest exposures to sun, most African countries have been slow on getting on to the alternative power band wagon. Morocco and Egypt have been making some strides towards harnessing wind power on commercial scales. Saharan countries Kenya and Ethiopia too are trying to bridge the enormous gap between demand and supply by tapping into wind energy. Ethiopia has commissioned a £190m, 120MW farm in Tigray region, representing 15% of the current electricity capacity. It intends to build several more projects like this. Tanzania has announced plans to generate at least 100MW of power from two projects in the central Singida region, more than 10% of the country’s current supply. To encourage wind power generate and reduce its dependence on coal-generated energy, South Africa has announce a feed-in tariff for wind power: people contributing to the grid by generating wind energy get paid. It’s the first African country to do so.

For the Lake Turkana Wind Power project the German consortium working on it has leased 66,000 hectares of the world’s largest permanent desert lake. The hot wind here consistently blows throughout the year through the channel between the Kenyan and Ethiopian highlands.

The project of course has its share of problems. Transporting turbines to the remote site of Loiyangalani is going to take time and effort. The site is nearly 300 miles north of Nairobi. In order to make trucks ply the roads and bridges will need to be mended. Then there are security issues: even the local tribesmen casually carry Kalashnikovs.

  • Jillian

    I assume that “remote” refers to the distance between these areas and human inhabitants. But what about the wildlife? How will these relatively untouched areas of the world fare as energy developments? How many dead birds can we expect to find at the feet of these towers?

  • zach

    I believe that this could help Africa develop by providing jobs and an eco-structure for development. This can only help the economic development by providing jobs and finance to its people by bringing in professionals to spend money and citizens earning money. While benefiting the country and citizens by needing to provide for these professionals. While supplying energy to the rest of the world. this will drive up their GDP and improve regional developments improving the standard of living.

  • Thomas Land

    This is superb news. Wind farms are a clean form of energy. Much cleaner and more environmentally friendly than the alternatives. If we are going to develop as a species we need to do so in a balanced way. Wind turbines have a minor negative environmental impact in comparison to the positive impact. You would expect to find very few dead birds at the feet of any wind tower. Birds don’t fly into trees and die. More birds are killed by cars, buildings (windows) and house cats than are killed by wind turbines. Even more species will be killed by climate change if we fail to act in an environmentally sustainable way.

  • Jillian

    I don’t think we can stop at decreasing carbon output, though. There are too many of us using too much energy. A few wind towers sounds like a fine idea, especially in underdeveloped areas of the world. But they can’t replace oil, any more than corn can. We’d need too many towers, too much corn. Wind towers are a fine first effort, but we need to be looking further into the future… it may arrive sooner than we think.

    Zero population growth would be the most responsible first step, followed by lifestyle changes in all developing countries, but most particularly in the US. THEN, we can look at new technologies.

  • jewcrewtoo

    Wow, this is really impressive. It’s great to see that all around the world, people are beginning to step it up and use alternative energy.

  • Much Jerry

    I cant wait for the project to be complete. Being a Kenyan and facing the worst of global warming in our country currently, such a project wouldn’t have come at a better time.

  • Manish

    This news has encouraged to base my thesis on the wind farm in Kenya. I am looking into this topic on a cost perspective as a quantity surveyors view. This could give a better understanding on the potentials of the wind farm in various other factors than the most obvious one of the environment. But till now I haven’t been able to establish enough information on this, if anyone could assist me with this, will be greatly appreciative.

  • Anne Westenbrink

    Since I am involved in the setup of an environmental project/group in Kisumu at the border of Victoria Lake , I was very happy to hear this great news on the dutch daily news some days ago ! I have told my kenian friends and they are very glad as well to hear that the great need for endurable energy resources is being looked after now and I am so proud to be able to say that its a dutchman that is behind all of this ! THANKS

  • Samuel K

    This is incredibly good news and its about time it happened. hopefully it will not only affect the energy sector but possibly also have an impact on the infrastructural growth of the area. finally an opportunity to increase energy and in a more environmentally way

  • john

    It is really about time Africa join the rest of the world and in fact possibly lead in many areas. However, to comment on the dead bird issue, why don’t you put your energy into the coal fired power plant that poison drinking water and air and go count your birds there.

    Secondly, the African council need to start acting like a proper council, the power struggles that will be next to come over who is the governing body of 300 mega watts will cost lives as all money issues do in Africa. Africa is truly the jewel of the world but unfortunately, it is so unregulated, anything goes, there is no want to make a better Africa, only a better bank account for individuals who have managed to lie, kill and pillage. My comments mainly refer to the corrupt governments of Africa and there willingness to accept bribes and kickbacks from wealthy EU, Asian and North American countries. But what they don’t seem to want to accept is that they are selling off there owned future for a new mercedes or bentley. Africa can do so much better and if they ever actually understand that acting in a way that best serves “Africa” then the world need be very cautious how the behave in this foreign land. Africa you own it all, the ball is in your court ! you make the rules ! and the wealth is unimaginable if you do things in a proper way for once.

    Do not bring in outside firms to build infrastructure on your continent for there profit. instead form business relationships where by you are in the driver seat and insist that they train and recruit only local manpower with contracts that state that the firms must maintain office headquarters on your land. STOP GIVING IT AWAY ! the guys with AK47’s are there because they have no other future.

  • joe

    Greatly anticipating the results. Something good from Africa, Europe, and the world helping develop the world one turbine at a time. Kudos to the west, kudos to Africa, hope for the developing world in general, and Africa in particular. Kudos. Asante Sana!


    As a Kenyan i think this is a very good idea, bearing in mind that our neighbor, Ethiopia are damming river omo which is the main river feeding the worlds largest lake (turkana). This scenario has caused and will cause an ecological disaster in the region all in the name of hydro electric generation. Ethiopia should learn from Kenya and tap from the unlimited wind energy in the area and leave lake turkana alone. Already the level of the lake is receding because of the activities up-stream.

  • Dave

    John, I couldn’t agree more. It is time that Africa takes charge of its resources – whether they be the minerals the north has pillaged for centuries or more modern concepts such as skills or renewable energy potential. It remains to be seen whether African countries have the skills and governance structures to keep a grip on their resources and spread the benefits of development to all corners of the continent. I am glad that the ADB is backing this project as they will aid knowledge flow and provide some semblance of accountability and transparency.

    Jillian, I am not in the habit of trashing other people’s comments on forums but I believe you are putting the cart before the horse slightly… Attitudes take decades to change and zero population growth would be the number one change to slow environmental degradation, but short of putting something in the water of all developing nations, there is very little chance that it will be achieved in the next 50 years. The same applies to minimizing energy use. We are gluttons for power! I believe technology provides the best chance of slowing our impacts and minimizing the effects. All the better if coupled with attitude change but I feel the best we can hope for on that front is incremental change!

  • John

    Thank you Dave,

    I have a vested interest in all things African as I will most likely retire there. It is such an amazing continent but miss-managed beyond comprehension. Nigeria, one of largest mineral fuel suppliers on the planet, poorly educated, corrupt to the highest degree….. the list goes on. These behaviors have such far reaching backlash for the general population that you can almost not get your head around all of it. White Africans are almost always perceived as oppressors, blacks are always received as an uneducated group desperate for whatever they can get, and there is so much more. These worldwide perceptions are born directly from the video feeds the world sees, but what the world does not always understand is that these cultures (as seen by foreign lands)are a direct product of crime lords posing as government officials, paid for by Asians, US, Canadian, Dutch…… investors. There will be one holy bang when the general public at large actually truly understand that someone is placing them for sale AGAIN !

    I suppose this sounds a bit like a rant, but I always have large reservations about all things big money Africa. I love Africa, I support any movement that is a positive one. But I cannot stand to watch it be carved up and its people treated in such a way (black or white)

    Best Of Luck Kenya
    I truly wish you well, but it would serve you well to be cautious of visitors bearing gifts

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