Kenya has announced that the 310-MW Lake Turkana Wind Power Project will go online later this month after the installation of the 428-km Loiyangalani-Suswa power line, which will connect that wind farm to the national grid.
The upcoming launch of Africa’s largest wind farm comes at a crucial time for Kenya, with the project expected to ease electricity costs, which soared by 57% last month when the Energy Regulation Authority reviewed tariffs.
Kenya’s reliance on expensive diesel-fired electricity as a last resort when dam water levels drop to complement the available geothermal power, has significantly raised the fuel charge levied on electricity bills.
The commissioning of the Lake Turkana Wind Farm is expected to play a key role in helping hold down power prices throughout all seasons.
The completion of the project brings an end to the construction process that had dragged on after several delays.
The 70 billion shillings (US$695 million) project financed predominantly by the African Development Bank with several other lenders, was initially due to be commissioned last December, with construction having begun back in 2015.
The slow speed of construction of the power line to evacuate electricity from Marsabit to Suswa, pushed the project’s completion back by nine months.
Kenya’ Energy Ministry was forced to switch to a new contractor after challenges encountered by the Spanish companies that had been chosen as the preferred bidder, while land compensation disputes also delayed the project.
In January, Kenya Electricity Transmission Company contracted a consortium of Chinese firms at a cost of 9.6 billion shillings (US$95 million) to complete the remaining section.
The completion of the project also means Kenya will avoid a fine of 1 billion shillings (US$10 million) per month lateness penalty, which would have come into effect had there been any further delays.
The commissioning of the wind farm is the latest in Kenya’s attempt to shift away from expensive and unpredictable thermal power.
The country has increasingly been pushing renewable power such as geothermal, wind and solar for improved dependability and affordability.