Kenya inaugurates Africa’s largest wind farm

Known as one of the advanced laboratories of the African technology scene, Kenya is now also one of the continental leaders in clean energy with the launch of Africa’s largest wind farm.

Located 600 km north of the capital Nairobi, on the eastern shore of Lake Turkana, a natural corridor considered one of the windiest areas on the planet, the wind farm includes 365 turbines with a capacity of 310 megawatts. Enough capacity to supply 330,000 households, according to its promoters, and which represents about 15% of the national electricity production. Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, who came to the site to inaugurate the project on 19 July, welcomed the fact that his country had « raised the bar again for the continent as it inaugurates the largest wind farm in Africa ». This explains « without a doubt[that] Kenya is becoming a world leader in renewable energy, » he added.

Indeed, this ambitious project - estimated at $680 million and partly financed by the European Union - reflects, through its public-private partnership (PPP) formula, the willingness of private operators to invest on a large scale in renewable energy on the continent. In a context of constantly rising energy demand, against the backdrop of economic and demographic growth and the long-term financial commitment of the States concerned, the economic situation is certainly favourable. In this case, Kenya has thus undertaken to purchase the electricity generated by the wind farm at a fixed price over a period of 20 years.

Location of the Lake Turkana wind farm (red beacon on the map)

However, the wind farm was not immune to hazards: completed in March 2017, it could not be connected to the Kenyan electricity grid until a year and a half later, in September 2018. This was due to delays in financing the 400-kilometre-long ad hoc power line and in acquiring the land necessary for its construction, which are the responsibility of the State. Now launched, the Lake Turkana wind farm should in any case bring the country closer to its ambitious 100% green energy target by 2020, with 70% of the country’s electricity already produced from renewable sources (geothermal, hydroelectric, solar, wind).