The construction of the Meru County Energy Park, an electrical power project, has kicked off.
The renewable energy project is expected to generate 80 Megawatts (MW), enough to supply electricity to 200, 000 households and boost the local economy, said a senior official of the company undertaking the project.
According to officials of Windlab, a global renewable energy provider, the project will generate economic activities to boost income for residents in Meru and provide additional clean power to the national grid and create jobs for locals.
Douglas Kaume, a project developer, said the project is currently occupying about 2, 000 acres as they identify the most suitable area for its final location, which they expect to reduce to no more than 140 acres.
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“This is a utility-scale hybrid project, the first of its kind in Africa and will consist of wind, solar and battery storage,” said Mr Kaume.
Besides providing additional clean power to the national grid, he said, the project will have many positive impacts on the Meru economy.
These include the creation of jobs, community projects initiated through community trust funds and project’s land rents.
Kaume said Athwana was chosen to host the project because the area has good wind resources, which are compatible with the solar resources.
“The area is not settled and preliminary studies show the area to not be environmentally sensitive and there are options nearby to connect the project to the national electricity grid,” Kaume revealed, adding that the tentative plan is to have it completed in 2022.
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The locals can continue with their activities in the areas surrounding the project infrastructure, he said.
Katherine Persson, Windlab’s Managing Director, East Africa, said the project is expected to bring around 150 million US Dollars (Sh150 billion) to Kenya.
It is privately financed and Meru County will be a stakeholder, through the Meru County Investment and Development Corporation, said Persson.
The electricity to be generated will be evacuated to the off-taker (Kenya Power) who in turn will distribute it to the final consumers.