kenya electricityBlackouts are such a regular occurrence in the city of Nairobi and throughout Kenya, and the problem is getting worse. Most shop owners, business people and petrol stations can be seen dragging out diesel generators and firing them up in the streets. Nairobi goes dark not for its lack of coal or natural gas, but for a lack of water. Hydroelectric dams generate more than 60 percent of Kenya’s power, much of it coming from a string of dams along the Tana River. In 2009 there was a extended dry spell, and rationing became the rule where some sections of the city had power for just two days a week.

The government through the ministry of energy, has come to terms with this recurrent problem, and sought solutions on how to end this perennial power shortage and a growing population and economy tightening the margin between electricity supply and demand. The solution has come in form of

Kenya securing a 1.3 billion shilling grant for the construction of a Wind power station at Ngong Hills here in Nairobi. The funding from the Belgium Government will go towards financing phase two of the wind power project, expected to commence in the next one month. The agreement is a zero interest credit agreement, which is a sort of grant that the country is given freely, and not obliged to pay back.

The project is to be commissioned in October, and a total of 8 turbines are to be put up at the site as part of the first phase.

KenGen had previously started an experimental wind farm atop the Ngong Hills a few years ago, which consisted of six wind turbines that deliver about 5.1 megawatts to the grid, on average. This is largely seen as an extension or scaling up measure, of the original project, citing its success. The peak of the hills is a haven for wind energy harvesting, because it lies southwest of Nairobi, and stands roughly a kilometer and a half above sea level and is blasted consistently by wind rising from the Great Rift Valley.

Maende, the project manager for this wind project said his team aims to more than double the size of the Ngong Hills wind facility during the next two years with support from the government, and other interested stakeholders.

This comes on the back drop of the ambitious project commissioned by the government earlier this year, through KP&P and its partners, to erect 365 wind turbines on a stretch of land 15 miles south of the town of Loiyangalani, on the lake’s southern edges. Each turbine will be capable of generating 850 kilowatts of juice. If completed, the Lake Turkana project would add more than 300 MW of new installed capacity to Kenya’s grid, meeting nearly a fifth of Kenya’s electricity needs.

By the time its completed finish, Kenya should be the fourth or fifth largest single wind park in the world.

Image courtesy: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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