Africa’s largest wind power plant relocates to Tanzania from Kenya

At a cost of €3.5 million (Sh423 million) per megawatt, the 600 megawatt offshore wind park would cost a total of Sh253.8 billion, making it the single most expensive private-funded project in East Africa.

VR Holding AB, the Swedish firm that wanted to construct Africa’s largest wind power plant in Malindi at a cost of Sh253 billion ($2.4b) has relocated the investment to Tanzania which shares the Indian Ocean coastline, citing frustration by Kenyan authorities.

“We have opted to look at offshore solutions for Tanzania,” Victoria Rikede, an executive at the company said.

The company had last year expressed interest in building a 600-megawatt (MW) wind farm in the Indian Ocean waters bordering Ras Ngomeni in Malindi, but Ministry of Energy officials turned down the request.

“Kenya is proving to be a very difficult place and besides the grid is too weak to absorb all the power produced and therefore mini-grids is the solution for now,” she added.

Kenyan officials had argued that a huge power plant would leave the country with excess power that will force consumers to pay billions of shillings annually for electricity not used beating the whole purpose of generating clean but cheaper energy.

They instead advised the Swedish firm to construct small, medium sized projects at different locations across the country citing lack of a framework for renewable energy projects of that scale besides low demand for electricity in the country.

Kenya’s renewable energy framework provides only for small and medium-sized projects under the feed-in-tariff (FiT) system, which fixes electricity prices for wind and solar projects of up to a capacity of 50 megawatts.

At a cost of  €3.5 million (Sh423 million) per megawatt, the 600 megawatt offshore wind park would cost a total of Sh253.8 billion, making it the single most expensive private-funded project in East Africa.

Offshore wind farms are deemed more reliable than those built on land since breezes in the ocean can produce steadier power.

The only renewable power project above 50 megawatts left in Kenya now is the 310-megawatt Lake Turkana Wind Power in northern Kenya, which was built at a cost of Sh70 billion.

However, despite being completed months ago the electricity from Turkana wind power is yet to be used due to lack of a transmission line, subjecting consumers to a Sh5.7 billion fine.

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