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Kenya’s rapid economic growth is is causing its electricity demand to grow at about 14% per year. The country is heavily reliant on fossil fuel imports, but wants to develop a broad range of renewable energy sources to help the government achieve its target of 2 GW of electricity from renewable sources by 2013.
Nearly half of the country’s energy demands are already produced from hydroelectricity, but there are plans to invest in solar and wind projects in order to further reduce the reliance on imported fossil fuels.
Wind is abundant on the Kano plains in Nyanza, better even than the wind found in California, but has only been traditionally used to provide power to pump water for the irrigation of croplands and local domestic consumption. Technological advances in wind turbine efficiency and the reduced cost of generators now allows Kenya to take better advantage of this free energy source with large scale wind farms.
Plans for a $874 million wind farm, the largest in sub-Saharan Africa, were announced back in 2009. The plan was for Lake Turkana Wind Power Development Ltd to erect 365 large-scale Vestas V52 wind turbines on the shores of the north Kenyan lake, which will produce 300MW of power.
Further plans to build a wind farm were declared on 30th of January this year, when Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of GE, announced that GE would build a 150MW wind farm in the town of Ngong, 12 miles southwest of Nairobi.
In a somewhat dated paper entitled, “Proposals on the profitable use of the convection wind system in Nyanza Provice of Kenya,” Wimborme Energy Consultancy’s E.G. Matthews wrote, “It should be noted that countries like Kenya could be in a strong economic position in the next (21st) century as renewable energy sources become more important. The present major industrial powers have based their strength on burning oil and coal. If they can no longer allow themselves to do this because of the environmental effects, the countries which have plenty of solar and wind power will become relatively richer in energy terms than northern hemisphere countries with less solar power.”
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com
James Burgess studied Business Management at the University of Nottingham. He has worked in property development, chartered surveying, marketing, law, and accounts. He has also…