Wind Power for Kenya.

Dear Friends.

Some of you may have heard of the LTWP [Lake Turkana Wind Power] consortium. It is believed that this project located in Loyangalani [L.Turkana] constitutes the single largest foreign direct investment into Kenya todate. It is believed that it will cost US$ 700 million. Once completed in 2012 it is projected to generate some 300MW of clean green electricity. With the recent announcement that Kenya has submitted it’s application to the UN to extend it’s coastal marine territory it is now possible to imagine Kenya generating electricity from the sea off-shore.

The reason I think this project is so important is because it shifts Kenya’s energy needs away from expensive oil and pollution. It also ensures that we access the latest technological advancements in green electricity. Though expensive initially it will eventually be cheaper than other fossil based generation plants because it doesn’t need to pay for it’s raw material which is wind and free. Kenya has no oil and spends a significant amount of forex [foreign currency] to import it. If we could tap into renewable resources such as wind, solar and geothermal Kenya would achieve 100% green electricity faster than most advanced nations of the world.

Advantages of Wind Power.

  1.  Wind power is free and with modern technology it can be harnessed very efficiently.

  2. The wind turbine itself though very tall only occupies a small piece of land and can therefore allow farming to be carried out within a wind farm.

  3. Electricity generated by wind power does not generate green-house gases.

  4.  Remote areas not connected to the electricity grid can generate their own power using wind energy.

  5. Wind power could save Kenya billions of dollars worth of oil imports.

  6. Kenya could earn extra money through the carbon credits market where industrialized countries compensate poor countries for absorbing CO2 on their behalf.

Disadvantages of Wind Power.

  1. Wind turbines because of their height are subject to damage by lightning and excessive stress in case of storms.

  2. Some people complain that wind turbines are undesirable in appearance and therefore spoil the beauty of the countryside.

  3. Wind turbines are very expensive to set up and therefore add up to the cost of electricity.

  4. Some of the less advanced turbines generate some noise which can be an inconvenience for those living near them

  5. Wind power generation is increasingly becoming highly technologically advanced and for countries like Kenya it may prove to be difficult to access the appropriate technology.

  6. Wind power may be unreliable because when there is no wind no electricity is generated. This is usually solved by ensuring that wind farms are distributed widely and interconnected with the national grid or a supergrid.

How Wind Power Works.

Imagine wind as a fluid. Now air particles move as a result of the sun heating the tropics which causes hot air to rise and cause convection currents which translate into wind. Motion means kinetic energy which is captured by the blades of a wind turbine which in turn drives a motor which generates electricity.

Making Wind Power Reliable.

To make wind power large scale farms economic and reliable alot of scientific data is collected by specialized agencies over a substantial period of time. In the case of LTWP data was collected by the German Wind Energy Institute [DEWI] from the 1st of December 2006. Before that the Kenya Meteorological Department had collected data for more than 30years giving a good climatic profile for the area. The data for this specific site revealed an average wind speed of 11m/s which is among the highest in the world.

The consortium which is a collaboration between Kenyan and Dutch investors has employed some of the most advanced wind turbines choosing the Vestas V52. They will construct 353 wind turbines each capable of generating some 850KW. Just to indicate how complex the project is they had to engage the services of a specialized firm called Mammoet which specializes in transporting and lifting very heavy equipment. The company has already surveyed the entire route from Mombasa and come up with the best route taking into account bridge reinforcements and adjustments to some key infrastructure to allow the turbines to be transported to the site. This fact alone tells you the turbines are simply enormous. They may look simple but they are as advanced as planes.

To ensure that wind power becomes the predominant source of power some additional improvements need to be done to the electricity grid. The larger such a grid is the better. To learn more about the proposed grid read another of my posts in this blog titled African Supergrid. If the grids and projects are implemented then it is possible to imagine a world in which electricity generated by oil will look prehistoric and very inefficient.

With this project Kenya takes another step towards energy independence and the future of energy generation. We hope that Kenya will continue to attract such notable projects which keep us on the cutting edge of technology and help in reducing green house gases while at the same time providing us with electricity to enable us take advantage of the exciting telecommunication developments like the fibre-optics and cellphone revolutions. 




5 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    kenyantykoon said,

    I hope to God that this project goes on to completion and those greedy politicians do not eat up the project’s funding like they did with the oil and maize. The possibilities are mind blowing!! Can you imagine cheap power internet access to all?? We will soon be on the fast track to development like SA and not the underdeveloped, politically unstable little country in Dark Africa we currently are

  2. 2

    jellyfishcoolman said,

    Hi Kenyatykoon.

    Since the funding is from private investors and is not passing through govt hands there is little chance of it being stolen. The consortium has also reached an understanding with KPLC on the rates it will get paid for electricity delivered to the National Grid. I also think Kenya is a little better viewed than the way you make it sound. If you read the Business Daily today you will see that Kenya is ranked 9 in Africa in terms of buss friendly reforms by the World Economic Forum.

    • 3

      kenyantykoon said,

      Hey am just saying it as i see it. I was reading the Daily nation sometime back and they said that Nairobi is one of the worst cities in Africa for expartriates to work in. So it really depends on where on gets their info.

  3. 4

    jellyfishcoolman said,

    Hi Kenyatykoon.

    Yes it depends on the source of info but we also have to make our own judgements. For example if they were comparing Nairobi with Geneva yes it would look pretty bad. But if they were comparing Nairobi with Mogadishu it would look pretty good. It also doesn’t make sense for Kenya to be a good tourist destination and at the sametime the worst place in the world for expatriates. Maybe we should ask Michael Joseph Safaricoms’ head whether he hates Kenya.

    I think our newspapers are a disgrace to Kenya. I havent seen another country where the papers are so keen to put down their own country. I live in the Netherlands and here people dont talk or write such disparaing things about their own country. Dont get me wrong I believe in constructive criticism but it should be that constructive and not destructive. South Africa for example has a huge problem with crime in Johannesburg and Geneva is too expensive did they mention those?

  4. 5

    John kamau said,

    This seems like it’ll be very interesting and would like more information on the wind power in Kenya .

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