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Lake Turkana: Biggest wind farm in Africa

Clean energy to meet Kenya’s growing demand

As Kenya’s economy is growing fast, the country invests heavily in electrification. The good news is that Kenya is quickly becoming Africa’s leading nation in the use of renewable energy.

During autumn 2018, Africa’s largest wind farm near Lake Turkana was connected to the national grid. The wind power facility with is 310 MW capacity will meet up to 15 % of Kenya’s current electricity demand. Finnfund has been a shareholder in the company ever since the construction began in 2013.

Wind generated electricity is cleaner, more reliable, more affordable. It has substantial impact on the climate as wind power replaces energy generated with fossil fuels. Cheaper and more reliable electricity supply helps improve services and promotes business productivity and, through that, job creation.

The project has been funded by European Investment Bank, African Development Bank and a number of bilateral development financiers.

During the peak of its construction phase, the project employed some 2,500 people in a very remote, rural area. Approximately 200 jobs will be permanent. The 200 kilometer long road built for the project has cut travel time to the nearest town from days to hours. This has benefited particularly local fishermen who are now able to sell fresh fish at a higher price. This data is from an impact study that Finnfund commissioned.

Exceptional wind conditions

The idea of constructing a wind farm near Lake Turkana was born already in the 1990s when a Kenya-based Dutch entrepreneur named Carlo van Wageningen started to study the local wind conditions.

“The experts taking the wind measurements on site initially thought that there was a fault in their equipment because the winds were so strong and steady,” he says.

The study concluded that this was one of the best wind sites in the world. It is a desert valley between tall mountains, swept by exceptionally strong, predictable and unidirectional winds.

The exceptional wind conditions give the wind farm a competitive edge. The load factor for the turbines on the Lake Turkana site is 55 percent on average; this compares very favourably with the European load factors averaging around 20 percent and explains why Lake Turkana can offer a competitive power price without subsidies normally seen in wind farms in Europe.

Renewable energy is one of Finnfund’s focus areas. The way developing countries meet their rapidly growing energy will be critical to curbing climate change.

Country: Kenya
Sector: Renewable energy
Year of investment: 2013

 

 

 

 

Read more about Finnfund investments in clean energy