Wind power plant boon to clean and inexpensive energy

In 2013, President Uhuru Kenyatta outlined an ambitious goal of reaching 100 per cent green energy use by 2020. 

Six years on, around 85 per cent of the energy we consume is already sourced from renewables, mainly geothermal and hydropower, and we are recognised not only in Africa, but around the world, as a leader in environmental excellence in the energy sector. The new wind farm in Laisamis, Marsabit County is about to boost that status.

The Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP) farm, launched recently, will generate 310 megawatts of power, increasing Kenya’s electricity supply by 13 per cent. The wind power project is the largest Africa has seen. The energy it generates is clean, inexpensive and can be reliably produced all year round. The 365 turbines are composed of 52 metre blade spans that will keep spinning in the remote area due to winds blowing from the Turkana corridor via the Indian Ocean. 

The government has recently been encouraging KenGen and the private sector to explore ways to take advantage of green energy. The aspirational project is a prime example of the success of public-private partnerships, something the government should not stop championing across industries. 

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It cost approximately Sh72 billion, with funding from the African Development Bank as well as various private lenders. This makes it the largest private investment in our nation’s history, according to remarks made by the President at the plant’s official opening. In only eight months, the wind power it generates has already saved us over Sh8 billion since it has reduced the usage or more expensive diesel-generated thermal power. 

Major investments may have high costs in the beginning, but the money saved and environmental protection in the long run make them worthwhile many times over. It’s a project that looks many decades ahead. To compliment the new plant, Uhuru also commissioned the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company to build 428km power transmission line. Loiyangalani to South Horr road was updated to support it. The line, which has a 1,200 megawatt capacity, takes the energy generated at LTWP to Suswa, before it is introduced to the national grid and then dispersed throughout the nation.

The wind plant serves a dual purpose: protecting Kenya’s scenic landscape and working towards our national development. There are also innumerable benefits of Kenya being able to produce cheap renewable energy. It will enable more and more people to connect to the national grid, enabling them to spend time working on their businesses and education, rather than worrying whether or not they will have reliable electricity. It underpins the Vision 2030 goals and boosts Kenya’s image as both a stable and profitable investment choice in Africa.

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Kenya’s commitment to lowering greenhouse gas emissions is our word to the rest of the world that we are doing our part as global citizens. The inauguration of the plant is a moment of national pride. Furthermore, its success helps show private investors and businesses that the Kenyan government is an ideal partner when it comes to development projects with high returns.

With so much divisive politics polluting the media these days, it is great to see that the negative national discourse is not clouding the development agenda. While the mainstream and social media focus on scandals and rifts between leaders, it is refreshing to read about development projects that improves livelihoods now and decades to come.

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- The writer is a human resources consultant

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President Uhuru KenyattaLake Turkana Wind PowerSuswa